Kenneth Edward Untener was born in Detroit on Aug. 3, 1937 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1963 for the Archdiocese of Detroit. He served as rector of St. John Provincial Seminary in Plymouth from 1977 until he was ordained as the fourth bishop of Saginaw in November 1980.
Described as a “Hungarian Gypsy” by his predecessor, Bishop Untener made headlines when he sold the bishop’s residence shortly after coming to the diocese and moved 69 times from parish rectory to parish rectory, living as a roommate with his diocesan priests and somewhat from the trunk of his car.
He took the Diocese of Saginaw global with his legacy of seasonal "Little Books" of prayer for Lent, Easter and Advent/Christmas. First released in 2000, more than 3 million copies are sold annually worldwide, with books making their way into the hands of Catholics as far away as Australia.
In addition to the ministry of his vocation – and despite his need for a prosthetic leg after losing part of his leg to a birth deformity – Bishop Untener also had a love for hockey. He was known to sometimes show up at the Nouvel Catholic Central High School team’s early morning practices and challenge goalies.
Saginaw’s spiritual leader for more than 23 years, Bishop Untener died March 27, 2004 from leukemia.