Paper tubes are a part of most people’s lives in the United States, but we rarely think about them. Essential in everyday items like paper towels and parmesan cheese containers, this humble product is what Ken Barmore has built a career of manufacturing. A lifelong entrepreneur and a prostate cancer survivor, Ken has also devoted time to researching and supporting cutting-edge cancer treatments.
He enjoyed 43 years of marriage with his first wife and more than 20 with his second wife, Kay, whom he recently lost to cancer. Kay and Ken shared a philosophy of not settling for the status quo and seeking solutions. Eight years ago, Ken, owner of the Chicago Mailing Tube Co., established a charitable remainder annuity trust that names the Cancer Research Institute as the beneficiary. “I hope that I am remembered for promoting advancements and better ways of doing things,” Ken says. Ken chose the Cancer Research Institute as beneficiary of his trust because he seeks to support an improved and more effective cancer treatment through immunology. Soon afterward, Kay helped to found the LUNGevity Foundation, a private provider of lung cancer research funds.
The charitable trust ensures that Ken receives an annual annuity for the rest of his life and a one-time tax deduction based on the trust contribution he has made. When he dies, the balance of the trust will be distributed to the Cancer Research Institute to use in support of its laboratory and clinical research. With this gift, he helps the Cancer Research Institute achieve its vision: the immunological treatment, control and prevention of cancer.
Ken has acted as a catalyst for innovation throughout his life. Beginning life as a farm boy in rural Illinois, Ken cycled through a number of jobs, including driving a city bus, maintaining the coal supply for the local electric company and being a quick study of engineering at a power plant during the war. There he found that he had a knack for designing tools. He joined a friend’s company where he honed his craft of translating the needs of an inventor or entrepreneur into specific pieces of machinery.
Eventually Ken began capitalizing on his design talents as an entrepreneur. As an engineer he found that his skills were very transferable. Ken says, “It doesn’t matter what kind of machinery you are using, it’s the same principles of design.” With that in mind he took over the Chicago Mailing Tube Co. 58 years ago, and it has thrived ever since. Once only servicing the Chicago area, he now does business throughout the Midwest. He has adapted to new customers, purchased companies that used to buy from him and brought his grandson, Keith Shimon, into the business who has helped modernize their business strategy.
As a man with a thirst for new ideas and supportive of the innovations of others, Ken says, “I appreciate the pioneering spirit of the CRI folks, and I trust them to give us new answers to cancer.”