By Brandon Janes
Killeen Daily Herald
Kenneth Schoen became involved in water conservation by necessity.
In the late '70s, Schoen called his wife at their family home on Nolan Creek, after hearing a weather report that Central Texas was being doused with heavy rains.
As Schoen, who was in school in Virginia at the time, spoke with his wife, five to six feet of water began surrounding their house.
Rita Schoen said she heard the gurgling of water through the floorboards of their home, just minutes before she was forced to swim away to safety.
Over the next 30 years, the couple became involved with water conservation, teaching children at area schools about the water cycle and serving committees and organizations responsible for preserving Bell County streams and watersheds.
Schoen and his wife volunteered at numerous nonprofit organizations, including Keep Killeen Beautiful, the Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District, the Lampasas River Watershed Partnership Steering Committee and the Lake Stillhouse Cleanwater Committee.
Schoen has given many hours to organizing trash pickups, educating children and lobbying for tighter water conservation laws in local and state government.
With Killeen under moderate drought conditions and in the midst of rewriting storm water drainage reform, water conservation is especially important, Schoen said.
"When you ask someone where their water comes from, the majority will tell you one of two things; the lake or the faucet," Schoen said. "But it is so much more complicated than that."
Although Schoen, 69, lost his wife and longtime partner in July, he said he will remain involved in water conservation for the rest of his life.
"If you are going to complain, get involved," Schoen said.
When the couple would visit area schools, Schoen said his wife would tell the story of Bo, a raindrop who was so disgusted with the way all other raindrops were being treated that he wanted to retire to an ice cave at the North Pole. "Most people do not realize they are already drinking recycled water," Schoen said.
After the death of his wife, Schoen has already shown his continued devotion to the cause by attending KidFest July 29.
"I was amazed at his buoyancy and the resilience he has, and it is because of his passion. He is so passionate about what he does," said Wilfred Brewster, director of volunteers at Killeen Volunteers Inc.
"Ken and his wife were avid members of our organization and did a lot of teaching how to preserve and maintain safe water."
Contact Brandon Janes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7552.
How to help
Join Keep Killeen Beautiful, a volunteer organization that organizes creek and stream cleanups and other activities that keep the Killeen area environmentally safe.
Meetings are at 11:30 a.m. on the third Thursday of every month at the Killeen Community Center, at 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd. or call (254) 501-7878.
If interested in water conservation education, call Kenneth Schoen at (254) 526-3973.