By Patsy Young
On Dec. 15, 2016, ninety-three-year-old Kenneth Lofton walked out the door of Lofton Hardware Store for the last time. He sold the store knowing that it would be difficult not to return each day after running it for most of his life.
Kenneth’s parents, O.L. and Ethel Murry Lofton, were married in 1920 and established Lofton Hardware Store in 1927 on the main street of Dierks. Four years earlier Kenneth was born on the 4th of July. He is the oldest boy of five children.
O.L. died in 1933 leaving Ethel to run the store and rear the children. Kenneth was the oldest boy and was given a key to the store when he was 10 years old. He opened the store each morning at 6 and served customers until his mother got the other children off to school.
During the following years Kenneth worked with his mother as Ethel continued to operate the store until her retirement in 1962.
Kenneth took over the business and with the help of his wife, Florine, has been running the store and enjoying visiting with his customers until he decided it was time to retire.
He was one of the first home appliance repairmen in the area. Early on in his career he took a correspondence course and learned to repair televisions, radios and other household items in the back of his store. He also made house calls to repair larger appliances such as washing machines and dryers.
In the early days all stores in Dierks were closed on Thursday afternoons, a custom he continued. However, he would always open his door after hours if a customer had an emergency and needed a hardware item.
Kenneth is married to the former Florine Lee. They have one daughter, Peggy who is married to Bud Walston. Both are Dierks High graduates, retired educators, and make their home in Hot Springs.
His one grandson, Scott Alan, also lives in Hot Springs. Kenneth and Florine have two great grandchildren and two step-great grandchildren.
The new owners will be selling hardware, but the Lofton Hardware sign will be gone and so will an era in the history of Dierks.