Creator, director of Support 7 services for first responders dies at 79

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A pillar of the Snohomish County faith and public service communities died this week after over 40 years heading the chaplain program in Snohomish County.

Ken Gaydos passed away at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3 at the age of 79 after a battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his family. Police and fire crews escorted his body from Swedish Edmonds to Beck’s Funeral Home in Edmonds.

Gaydos was the director of International Chaplain’s Ministry and creator of Support 7, a local non-profit organization that provides support to local first responders and assists local chaplains in the care of those who experience sudden trauma or crisis.

“Ken was the first one to respond when a call came out… and his gentle presence brought peace and compassion to families and first responders all across Snohomish County,” said Shannon Sessions, Lynnwood City Council vice president and Gaydos’s colleague in public safety for over 20 years. “Ken was the longest serving police/fire chaplain in state of Washington and one of longest in United States. He established chaplaincies on every continent except Antarctica. This has not ever happened before.”

Sessions describes Gaydos as warm, gentle and understanding.

“His warmth and wisdom calmed many people in their darkest moments,” she said. “He will be deeply missed…especially by those he loved the most.”

Former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson remembers meeting Gaydos in 2000, shortly after the mayor took office.

“He introduced himself and told me about his ministry and Support 7,” Haakenson said. “He was very clear that if I needed anything, I should call him. Little did I know that for the next 11 years, he would always be there for me, even when I didn’t know I needed him.”

Haakenson said he received random calls and texts from Gaydos even after he left office.

“I remember so many times he would lift my spirits and tend to my state of mind. Who knows how many other sheep he tended to in his many years of service,” Haakenson said.

Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan remembered Gaydos as “a class act. Totally selfless, and in every way making his life about others. His legacy is one of care, compassion, and public service for over 45 years. He was a truly remarkable member of our public safety community for whom I express deepest gratitude. Truly an angel among us who did so much for so many.”

Gaydos was awarded this year’s Meritorious Service Citation award by the Edmonds Police Department during its annual awards ceremony.

Those wishing to honor Gaydos by helping his family can make donations to:
J. Kenneth Gaydos Irrevocable Trust
Bank of America
306 Main Street
Edmonds, WA 98020

Details regarding Gaydos’ funeral will be announced soon.

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