He rode off into the sunset for the last time, friends and colleagues around the country are saying about Maxey Kenneth Lovell, whose leadership in the marine industry ranged from dealer to trade association executive. Ken died July 6 at age 77.
I’d known Ken for more than 40 years. We’d talk regularly about the industry, boat shows, trade association management and how we might do it all better. As a former chairman of the National Marine Trades Council, Ken was on most current weekly NMTC Zoom calls as recently as a couple of weeks ago, always offering other association executive directors sound advice from his long record of success.
It’s hard to believe that the soft-spoken, mild-mannered gentleman I knew was a boat-racing, hot-rodding, motorcycle-jockeying, rodeo-loving, horseback-riding wild child growing up. But he settled down and in 1976 found his future in the boat business when he opened Lovell Marine Sales with his dad. For the next 12 years, Ken and his father worked side by side along with Ken’s mother, Ruth, and his lifetime partner, Becky, his high school sweetheart (married 56 years).
In 1988, Ken was serving his second term as president of the Boating Trades Association of Metropolitan Houston when an unexpected life twist landed him in the executive director’s seat. From there, Ken began building his legendary status as the driving force for the growth of the BTAMH, the lead producer of the giant Houston Boat, Sport and Travel Show; as a voice that steadfastly advocated for recreational boating in Austin, Washington and the media; and as the hand that linked the BTAMH to many worthy causes.
It’s fitting that Ken was recognized with many awards throughout his career. But the one he valued the most came in 2016, when he received the prestigious Bill Ferguson Award from the members of BTAMH, honoring his years of dedication, success and service to the organization and his positive influence on the boating industry overall.
From his hat to his boots, he was a Texas outdoorsman all the way. Ken loved riding horses with his family and friends on trails around the Lone Star State. He was a lifetime member to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, where he earned status as a Lifetime Committeeman serving more than 30 years on the Calf Scramble Committee. He also volunteered his time to the Pasadena Livestock Show and Rodeo. He was an avid angler, hunter and camper.
The Houston Boat, Sport and Travel Show is set for Jan. 7-16, 2022. Houston has traditionally been the first major-market winter boat show in the industry. It is now ably lead by Ken’s daughter, Lynette, and son, Kenny, both of whom bring years of experience under Ken’s leadership.
Ken won’t get to see the next Houston show, but I believe he’ll be watching.