In Memory

Kenneth L. Roderfeld

Kenneth L. Roderfeld

Kenneth Leo Roderfeld
Update:  Due to COVID restrictions, a private funeral service was held on September 7, 2021. A celebration of his life will be held from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon, Saturday, June 11, 2022 at St. Ambrose Catholic Church Community Center. This Celebration of Life is an opportunity for Kenny’s friends to gather together and share their stories. As part of this celebration, Kenny asked that we have a shoe collection for those in need. As you know, Kenny was confined to a wheelchair for 50 years and his hope was that every child, every person, who can walk will have a good pair of shoes to wear. Receptacles for new and gently used shoes (children and adult) will be available in the Gathering Space from June 4-12, 2022. The shoes will then be given to area organizations to give to those in need. Online guestbook and information may be found at
Kenny Roderfeld, 70, of Alton, died peacefully on Monday, August 30, 2021. Born June 11, 1951, to Alvin “Slick” Roderfeld and the late Lucille (Pavelek) Roderfeld. He was the oldest of four children.

He was a 1969 graduate of Alton Senior High School and played on the 1968 AHS football team with a winning record of 9-0-1. He attended Western Illinois University majoring in architecture until a swimming accident in September 1971 left him paralyzed. A quadriplegic at age 20, he changed his major and graduated from SIUE with a degree in Business Administration and Marketing. In 1979, he received the SIUE Outstanding Young Alumnus award for professional achievement.

Despite over 65 rejections at interviews, often due to wheelchair inaccessibility, Kenny was determined to get a job. He kept trying until he was offered a position at First National Bank in Alton in the auditing department and became a computer programmer at their data processing affiliate, MIPCO. He later worked as a program analyst at Mercantile Bank in downtown St. Louis until 2001. Kenny received recognition at each place of business for his outstanding work ethic.

Kenny was a determined advocate for individuals with disabilities and was instrumental in working with college officials to obtain wheelchair access with electric doors at SIUE and an elevator at LCCC. He worked closely with Alderman Tony Vambaketes to obtain sidewalk cutouts in Alton. Kenny served as chairman of the board at IMPACT, center for independent living for individuals with disabilities.
Kenny enjoyed cheering for the St. Louis Blues and Cardinals. He loved trout fishing trips to Bennett Spring, MO, going to the Alton Little Theater, and playing trivia and Jeopardy with caregivers.

Despite his health challenges, Kenny maintained a positive attitude. During his hospitalizations, he always took an interest in the staff asking where they went to school and about their families. He had amazing recall of the stories they shared, even years later.

Kenny lived 50 years as a quadriplegic, a testament to the excellent and loving care provided by his parents and family. His family is eternally grateful to his caregivers who became like family, continuing that excellent level of care and compassion. If you were fortunate enough to have crossed paths with Kenny, you know firsthand what a special individual he was and indeed felt blessed to know him. Kenny was an active parishioner at St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Alton and St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Godfrey helping with their auctions by donating sports memorabilia he collected throughout the year.

He was a godfather to his cousin Sharon Godfrey, nephew Michael Means, nieces Alicia Orris and Colleen Schoeberle, and family friends Kathleen Wiegand and Amy Pruetzel. Kenny is survived by his father Alvin Roderfeld, three sisters: Pat (Jim) Means, Shirley (Roger Motley) Roderfeld and Joyce (Brian) Semmler; three nieces: Jacquelyn (Tomas Alarcon) Means, Alicia (Max) Orris, Colleen (John) Schoeberle; nephew Shawn (fiancée Bethany Frick) Semmler; a step-niece Roanna Motley, a great-nephew Milo Orris, his aunt Willetta Lundahl and many cousins. Kenny was preceded in death by his mother Lucy Roderfeld and his nephew J. Michael Means.

In lieu of food or flowers, the family requests donations in Kenny’s memory be made to IMPACT Center for Independent Living, 2735 E Broadway, Alton, IL 62002; St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 820 W Homer M Adams Pkwy, Godfrey, IL 62035; or an organization of your choice.

A private funeral service will be held. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. Online guestbook and information may be found at

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09/03/21 10:15 AM #1    

Michael Massey

Rest In Peace, Kenny, knowing that your inspirations will live on. God Bless You.

09/03/21 06:15 PM #2    

Kenneth Pugh

I always admired Kenny from afar and often wondered if I had the courage to go through life as he did. He was truly one of the good guys in high school.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest in piece my friend.

09/03/21 08:31 PM #3    

Ken Saville

I knew Kenny from grade school TV though high school. He was always a posive guy. After his accident I would often see him at St. Matthews Church when I visited from Wisconsin - still the same positive guy. He will be missed 

09/04/21 09:34 AM #4    

Jack Groppel

In school, I always enjoyed Kenny's positive spirit and attitude. He was someone we all looked up to. Then, after his injury, we were able to witness even more positivity, but then we saw his additional courage, wisdom and fighting spirit. While he and I lost touch later in life, I will never forget how he continued being a model of strength for all of us. My prayers go out to his family. RIP Kenny.

09/04/21 09:42 AM #5    

Kenneth R. Cook

I am very grateful to have known Kenny Roderfeld over the span of all of these years.  He was a great friend and a very impressive model of maturity in the face of difficulty.

09/04/21 02:36 PM #6    

Randy Reno (Matney)

RIP Kenny, your courage and wonderful sense of humor throughout life has been an inspiration for so many people. You will always be remembered. Thoughts and prayers to your family. 


09/04/21 10:09 PM #7    

Danny E. Johns

Kenny and I grew up together in the same neighborhood from kindergarden age through our junior year in High School.  We spent many days having fun in the neighborhood playing football, baseball, kickball, cowboys and indians, fishing at the river and camping out.  Tony Vambaketes also lived in the same neighborhood next door to Kenny and his family.  Kenny was a true friend and inspiration to me and everyone who met and knew him.  For those who attended the Class reunions, to my knowledge, Kenny did not miss a Class reunion.  One of his sisters would always ensure he was able to attend the reunion to enjoy his time with all of us former classmates.  Godspeed to Kenny.

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