Losing a Dear Friend, Ken Lawler

Ken Lawler Tribute | 15 March 2013

By Dar Furda & Friends


Ken Lawler – He was an avid digger in California as well as in upstate New York. On one occasion, he dug with the Montana club and Leadville, Colorado became another favorite digging spot, especially when Leadville area shows were held.

Ken Lawler, 76, the “Ken” of the “Ken and Dar” team that handled the Western Region reports published for years in Bottles and Extras, the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors magazine, died February 8 after a two-year struggle with cancer. His loving partner of 15 years, Darlene “Dar” Furda, said Lawler suffered from Advanced Stage 4 Prostate Cancer that had metastasized to his bones. “He knew there was no cure, but he had hopes that he could be stabilized,” Dar said. “That happened only briefly before he was introduced to further medication and a clinical trial.”

Ken was a late comer to the bottle hobby, joining the Los Angeles Historical Bottle Club in 2002. He became so respected, he was elected club president in 2003, becoming club secretary in 2004 and remaining in that position through 2011. “He had written numerous reports after attending many club shows and he wasted little time in sticking his probe and shovel into some good digs,” Dar said. “He was an avid digger in California as well as in upstate New York. On one occasion, he dug with the Montana club and Leadville, Colorado became another favorite digging spot, especially when Leadville area shows were held.”

She said her longtime companion also had other passions such as rock hounding, stamp collecting, electronics and woodworking, His interest in rocks and minerals led him to such diverse spots as the Silver Queen Mine in the Mojave Desert and the Campbird Mine in Ouray, Colorado, among several other locations. “I am sure many of you realized that both Ken and I were not well-seasoned collectors or diggers, but that we were all heart. We had many a picture taken of our dirty, sweaty faces, proudly holding out our finds. I can guarantee you that some of Ken’s happiest moments were spent in either a bottle-lined hole, or making several rounds at a bottle show. “He would pop up at most annual Western Region shows and was spotted checking out tables at FOHBC national shows, too. He never let weather conditions stop him from attending. One year, he drove through heavy rain to make it to a Buffalo, N.Y., club show. Another time, he was enthusiastically talking with Jan Rutland while attending a National Bottle Museum show in Ballston Spa, N.Y.

“Ken would wear himself out making the rounds during shows and finally collapse onto a chair behind a dealer’s table to rest and chat. It was at shows where he enjoyed learning about the various bottles he’d dug and enjoyed collecting, such as Owl poisons. “When heading out to a bottle show, no matter if it was in Southern or Northern California,, he was always prepared to dig. He carried digging clothes, boots, buckets, probes and shovels in the back of his truck.

“Then came the time when he could no longer attend shows, devoting his time to treatments to try and stabilize the cancer. The Los Angeles Historical Bottle Club Show on Sept. 29, 2012, was his last show, forcing him to sit o the sidelines as his strength ebbed away.

“Ken would not want to be remembered for his valiant fight against cancer, but for his support of bottle shows and his love of digging.”

Ken Lawler was born March 12, 1936 on a ranch in Whitsett, Texas. After moving to California, he spent four years in the U.S Air Force where he spent time on a small island called Iwo Jima in the South Pacific. Then he was assigned to a communications group in Fuchu, Japan. His last job was working as a government quality source representative for the U.S. Department of Defense. He worked in government service for 40 years in Southern California.

“This unassuming man was quiet and effective, loyal and caring,” Dar said. “Club members who knew him will miss him. New members who did not get an opportunity to speak with him and who read this story will learn Ken Lawler had multiple interests and always kept busy accomplishing something he was interested in.”

Dave Maryo, President, Los Angeles Historical Bottle Club, writing in The Whittle Mark: “In early February, we received the sad news that Ken Lawler passed away. All of his bottle collecting friends will surely miss him”

Mike Bryant, writing in the Dump Digger’s Gazette of the San Diego Bottle Club: “The bottle community and the San Diego Bottle Club just lost a dear friend. Ken Lawler from the Los Angeles Historical Bottle Club and the F.O.H.B.C., passed away yesterday (Feb. 8). What a great guy he was! He and longtime companion Dar Furda were big promoters of our club and shows. Our hearts and prayers are with you, Dar.”

Wayne and June Lowry, Raymore, Missouri: “Wayne and I had the privilege to meet this wonderful person and his partner, Dar Furda, at the Collinsville (Ill.) National Show in 2007/ They attended the FOHBC board meeting as members to discover more about the organization and what goes on in board meetings. “They jumped right in and offered to help any way they could.. They were again present at the York (Pa.) Expo FOHBC board meeting in 2008, at which time we became better acquainted. Dar and Ken then became involved in the 2009 Pomona (Calif.) Show by taking the lead on the souvenir program. From this casual meeting and association grew a wonderful and lasting friendship. “Ken contributed to the show article with many wonderful pictures, including the one (of the rear end of our dog, Pepper) that ended the article. In 2010, we had the privilege to sojourn with them to the San Diego show and then up north to the Aurora, Oregon show.

“The last time we saw Ken was at the Leadville, Colorado show in July 2011. We had a wonderful time going to antiques stores, the show and just hanging out at dinner. We even went to the Leadville dump and ‘dug.’ This may have been his last dig. We will miss Ken deeply and he is irreplaceable.”

Sad News | 11 February 2013

Dar Furda Ken Lawler - Western Regional News Editors

Dar Furda and Ken Lawler

The bottle community and the San Diego Bottle Club just lost a dear friend. Ken Lawler from the Los Angeles Bottle Club and the FOHBC passed away yesterday. What a great guy he was! He and long time companion Dar Furda were big promoters of our club and our shows. Attached is a picture of Ken & Dar taken at our 2011 show by Clair Cunningham. Our hearts and prayers are with you Dar……

Mike Bryant


It is with heavy heart to inform you that Ken has passed away. He left us at 5:15 am. on Friday Feb. 8. Ken had been dealing with cancer for 2 years. Since his diagnosis he and Dar continued to participate in shows and the Los Angeles Historical Bottle Club. He was the secretary of the club for well over a decade. Over the years Ken and Dar would jump into their truck and drive all over the country to cover stories and write about the shows for the Whittlemark and Bottle and Extras. Even as up to Sept of 2012, he participated in the LAHBC show and attended the open house that I had after the show at my home. He never lost that enthusiasm for the hobby and the love for collecting. Last year in the spring he and Dave Carvalho went to Tonopah to do a dig, He will be greatly missed.

There will be no services by his request. I have spoken to Dar and we will be gathering somewhere in Morro Bay on Friday, March 22, after the Bar B Que for a happy hour to celebrate Ken’s life. Anyone is invited. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Pam Selenak (FOHBC Public Relations Director)


Dear FOHBC Board Members,

I want to thank you for the lovely flowers I received yesterday in support of my loss of Ken Lawler. We all lost Ken Lawler, but we haven’t lost our memories of him.

He enjoyed the hobby, the shows, and getting a chance to learn more about the hobby. The best part was meeting people he could chat with be it board members or dealers (and sometimes both in the case of some of the board members).

He had other hobbies such as rock hounding and woodworking. Nothing ever beat the feeling of randomly shoving a shovel in the ground and coming up with a winner. In his eyes whether he found a slick or a fine embossed bottle he felt he was helping to preserve history.

He struggled for two years with his advanced stage 4 prostate cancer, but within that time frame he was still able to get out to some of the LAHBC meetings and talk about what he brought for “Show and Tell.” As one bottle collecting friend put it in a recent email, “When Ken spoke people listened.”

I think what he would say to you today would be for each of you to enjoy the hobby in the way that best fits you. He would also thank each of you for your contributions to the Federation.

I personally want to thank you for caring and to thank those of you who have sent me an email condolence.


Darlene J. Furda (Dar)

P.S. If anyone would like to have a picture of Ken to so note him somewhere. I have something I can forward to you. Just let me know.