Ken Bachman

Ken and Karen Bachman with their kids, Ryan, front, and Lauren, last June at Lauren's preschool graduation. Ken was 41 when he died in December, after an aneurysm burst in his brain.

Photo provided by Bachman family

Ken Bachman grew up in the kind of home that could be the start of lots of sad life stories.

He was raised by his mother and grandmother, who were “both alcoholic, and pretty verbally and physically abusive,” said his wife, Karen.

But for all their problems, the two women were about the only family he had. His father walked out when Ken was little, and from everything Ken’s mother said about his dad, Ken didn’t miss him.

Still, the man who grew out of that troubled childhood didn’t continue the cycle of abuse — of others, or his own body. Ken grew up to be not just a productive person, but an absolutely hilarious one, his friends said.

So the Egg Harbor Township resident left a hole in the lives of many friends — along with his wife and four kids — when he died last month. He was just 41, and died of an aneurysm that burst in his brain.

Ken spent most of his adult life in police work — in uniform with four South Jersey agencies, including North Wildwood, and the last five years or so as a detective at the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.

His sergeant there, Keith Fane, retired last year. He said Ken was both great at his job and great to work with.

On a personal level, “If you wanted to have a bad day or be miserable that day, he probably wasn’t going to let you,” said Fane, of Galloway Township. “And if he was having a bad day, you’d never know it.”

Professionally, “He was one of the best interviewers I’ve ever seen,” added Fane, who, in 30 or so years on the job, saw lots of his suspects questioned. “He could make (a suspect) laugh to ease up the situation. And he had the ability to turn different personalities on and off in a second. Not many people I’ve seen could do that.”

Joe Saponare, Ken’s friend since kindergarten in Bellmawr, Camden County, wasn’t surprised to hear his old buddy could make humor work for him at work.

“He was the ultimate comedian,” said Saponare, a Camden police officer. “Comedians would kill for his delivery.”

He said his friend was living a dream just working where he did.

“His whole life, he wanted to be a police officer,” Saponare said. “His pursuit was relentless.”

Karen, Ken’s second wife, knows he also got to live a dream with his family. He loved being a dad to their kids, Lauren, 6, and Ryan, 3, and to two teenagers from his first marriage, Vicky and Kenny.

Plus Ken had recently reunited with his own father, and three half-brothers — after he realized that everything bad he knew about his dad came from the man’s ex-wife. After that reunion, Ken told Karen he was the happiest he had ever been.

“Ken never had an easy childhood,” she said, “so he wanted to make sure his kids had a great one.”

A Life Lived appears Tuesdays and Saturdays.

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