Kenan Nizam Akay
Kenan Nizam Akay
June 16, 1925-June 4, 2012
Kenan Akay passed away peacefully at his home in Sonoma, surrounded by loved ones, including his beloved wife, Patricia.
He was the youngest of four children, born in Devrek, Turkey, near the Black Sea. Kenan was the son of the Provincial Tax Assessor and an outstanding scholar, being awarded a scholarship to study abroad. While awaiting the opportunity, Kenan accepted a banking scholarship at the University in Istanbul, but never matriculated, as an opportunity arose to study engineering in the United States.
Kenan left Turkey with intentions to return and was first assigned to study the English language for one year at Queens College in New York. He was then given the choice of four colleges and chose UC Berkeley over M.I.T., the California Institute of Technology in Southern California and Stanford. At Berkeley, he attained high honors and graduated from Cal with an electrical engineering degree.
It was at Cal that Kenan met his future wife, Patricia, at a student dance. She was taking a semester at Cal while studying art at the California College of Arts in Oakland. They developed a mutual, respectful friendship and dated for three years before getting married in Salinas. They complemented each other perfectly, he the analytical engineer, and she, the artist.
Kenan continued his graduate studies at the University of Southern California with a major in power engineering. When his studies were finished, Kenan returned to the Bay Area and took a job with Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a company he had worked for during one summer while at Cal. For 37 years at PG&E, Kenan was known to his co-workers as “Nick,” a nickname for his Turkish name, Nizam. Kenan was born with the name Nizamettin and changed his name to Kenan Nizam Akay when he became a U.S. citizen, an easier Turkish name to pronounce.
His talents were recognized by PG&E, and he was promoted to underground transmission engineer in charge of designing and installing all of the major underground power lines, including new developments at the time, such as Oakmont in Santa Rosa. His work took him to Norway, France and England to meet with fellow, professional engineers. As a member of the Professional Society of Electrical Engineers, Kenan was regarded as extremely knowledgeable and was loaned out by PG&E to the Bechtel Corporation to design a pipeline for the frozen Alaska tundra.
Meanwhile, Kenan and Pati raised two sons, Douglas and Michael. Kenan and his two sons were baptized together at the First Presbyterian Church in Burlingame. Kenan led an active social life and was a member of the Peninsula Golf and Country Club, the Knights of the Vine and La Chaine des Rotisseurs.
Travel, camping, fishing, tennis, ping-pong and skiing became family affairs and Kenan was especially proud of his two sons, Douglas, an attorney in San Francisco and Michael, a candy business owner in Tahoe City along with their families.
In 1998, Kenan moved to Glen Ellen where he was active in Kiwanis, formed a coffee club and honed his excellent framing skills for his wife, the artist. Their joy was complete last summer when they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary by returning for the first time to Rainbow Lodge, en route to Lake Tahoe, like they did on the first night of their honeymoon.
At his retirement years ago, he received the highest compliment from his colleagues: “Kenan never had a project fail!” He was recently pleased that the quote was still true to this day. After his retirement, Kenan became an internationally requested engineering consultant until he had more fun being a grandfather and picture framer.
Kenan is survived by his wife, Patricia; his sons, Douglas (Catherine) and Michael; grandchildren, Everett, Emily and Alexander; as well as numerous nephews, nieces and cousins throughout the United States, Canada, Germany and Turkey.
A service will be held for Kenan at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 16290 Arnold Drive in Sonoma, on Tuesday, June 12, at 3 p.m. Inurnment at First Presbyterian Church, Burlingame, CA.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to Hospice By The Bay, 190 W. Napa St., Sonoma, CA 95476 or St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 16290 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476.
Duggan’s Mission Chapel
Mission Cremation Service
525 West NapaStreet,