Well known Kern and San Luis Obispo County cattle rancher and farmer Kenneth C. Twisselman passed away peacefully at 89 years of age on September 14, 2020, at his daughter’s ranch home in the mountains above Maricopa, surrounded by his loving wife and family. Ken was a fourth generation Californian and a member of two large pioneer families, the Twisselmanns and McMillans. He was born in Paso Robles on March 19, 1931, and was raised on his grandfather Chris Twisselmann’s ranch headquarters in the Bitterwater Valley near Cholame and Shandon. Chris was a community leader who had one of the largest farming and livestock operations in that region, encompassing both San Luis Obispo and Kern counties. Ken’s maternal grandfather Alexander McMillan farmed in the Shandon area. Alex was a community and church leader who served in the California Assembly from 1922-24. In 1945, Ken’s parents, Carl and Dorothy, moved their family to the current Temblor Ranch headquarters in the Temblor Range west of McKittrick. It is a historic ranch that used to be part of the Miller & Lux empire. It was also a stage coach stop for travel from the San Joaquin Valley across the Carrisa Plains to the coast. Much of the ranch land purchased over the years since has been acquired from the families of homesteaders whose dreams of a productive farmstead had failed in that arid country.
Ken attended grammar school in Choice Valley School, a one-room school house in the Bitterwater Valley. He also attended Olig School near McKittrick, Shandon and Taft High Schools and Taft Junior College, where he was the student body president. He received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from UCLA in 1953. He married Rosemary Rees of Taft in 1952. Their oldest son, Kenneth C. Twisselman II (aka K.C.), has served as a Kern County Superior Court Judge since 1988. Their daughter Susie and her husband Richard Snedden operate a multi-generational cattle ranch southwest of Maricopa.
Ken and Rosemary and younger sons Steve and Tom Twisselman and their children own a cow-calf operation that was originally based on using Brahman cross-bred cattle that were first developed by Ken’s father in the 1940’s, long before the Brahman became a popular breed in California. Ken also previously ran a dry-land farming operation, growing barley and wheat for many years on the Carrisa Plains and the Temblor Range.
Ken was an active and very engaged participant in his community. Among his many contributions, he served for 25 years on the school boards at McKittrick Elementary and Taft Union High School. He served as a president and long-time director of the Kern County Cattlemen’s Association and a director of the California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). Ken’s father Carl was elected president of the CCA in 1962. Ken made valuable connections with many of the public officials whose decisions would impact the cattle industry. Ken was known for his broad range of knowledge in myriad subjects and for his dry, ready wit, but most of all for his love and commitment to his family.
Ken is survived by his wife of 68 years, Rosemary, his four children, K.C. (Teresa), Susie (Richard), Steve and Tom, nine grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his four siblings, Darrell, Carl II, Marlis and Marjo. He was preceded in death by his parents Carl and Dorothy, and his infant sister Kathryn Ann.
The entire family would like to give thanks, first to Grandma Rose for her loving and selfless care for our wonderful Papa Ken throughout his time of special need. Also, to Susie and Richard for letting the grandparents live with them during the pandemic quarantine which allowed all of us to have a personal connection during a very trying time. Susie and Richard went above and beyond the call of duty helping nurse Papa Ken 24/7. Finally, to the nurses and staff at Hoffman Hospice for their help and support. A private family service will take place at a future date, hopefully when the ranch is covered by tall green grass.