Ken Primos remembered for family, community
Noted restauranteur and son of the Primos Cafe founder was remembered for his faith, love of family and growing the Primos brand in a career that spanned roughly six decades.
Kenneth Angelo Primos, Sr., passed away on Christmas Eve at St Catherine’s Village at the age of 98, less than a week after his birthday.
“We rejoice that he is gone to be with his savior,” a message on the restaurant’s social media page read, noting that the announcement is made “with a bittersweet lament.”
Kenneth Primos was the son of the founder, the late Angelo "Pop" Primos. He was the father of Don Primos, who was long associated with the restaurants.
“He had a great love and appreciation for his father Angelo "Pop" Primos both in his life and work,” The message reads. “He helped continue the Primos Cafe legacy as owner/operator from the late 1940s through the mid-90s. Along with the many Primos staff and patrons, he deeply cherished his family, friends, and church community.”
He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann Rivers Primos; sons, Ken A Primos, Jr. and wife, Deb Scott Primos, Wilbur (Will) Rivers Primos and wife, Mary Dees Primos, and Peter McDonald (Don) Primos and wife, Virginia Phillips Primos.
He was known as “Pappy” to his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. His family remembers him as “a gentle artistic soul.”
“His joy in his retired life was sharing his hobbies with them whenever possible,” the family said. “He was a great cook, gardener, painter and fisherman. He had a great eye for beauty and most loved being on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with his soulmate Mary Ann at their “Coast House” on Back Bay in Biloxi.”
Connie Sills Kossen of Ridgeland described Primos as a close friend of her dad’s and said Kenneth Primos was a pallbearer in his funeral in 1979.
Her dad was Frank Sills, a longtime salesman for the Merchants Company where he worked beginning around 1940 until his death.
The last many years, his territory was “the city of Jackson and surrounding area”, which involved him “calling on” all the restaurants and schools in that area, Kossen said.
“Primos was one of his many customers,” she said. “And he became close to many of his customers.”
Kossen said there were “many years of fond memories shared” by Kenneth and her father.
Primos was born on Dec. 18, 1924, in New Orleans. the second born son to Angelo and Mildred Primos. He was the last living sibling of three brothers and a sister, Aleck Primos, Gus Primos, Mildred Primos Smith and Billy Primos.
Moving to Jackson in 1929 during the depression, Kenneth grew up on Claiborne Street. At that time, his family says, his father began to establish himself as a local restaurateur, his first restaurant being Primos Bake Shop on East Capital Street.
Kenneth graduated from Central High in 1943 and briefly attended Tulane before being called for duty in World War II. He served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force where he was a navigator in the “war winning” B24 Liberator aircraft, the family said. The B24 was called the Flying Boxcar and the Flying Coffin. Nicknamed by the pilots and crew that flew them, for its shape and the number of enemies it eliminated because of its long distance and low flying capabilities.
Returning home after the war, Kenneth attended the University of Mississippi where he was a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity.
It was in 1947 in the Ole Miss cafeteria where he was first introduced to a Meridian beauty, Mary Ann Rivers, and, his “his life would never be the same,” his family said.
They married almost 75 years ago in September of 1948.
Kenneth worked with his father and brothers in the restaurant business for many years, operating Primos #2 at Baptist Hospital and later Primos Northgate and Convention Center. They would go on to have locations in Flowood, Ridgeland and Madison.
He was predeceased by his parents and siblings, sister-in-law, Billie Claude Pierce Primos; and brother-in-law, Victor P. Smith.
“The family would like to thank the staff at St. Catherine's, led by Sonja Potts and Elaine Vincent, for their special care and attention to Kenneth,” the family said. “Also a special thank you to his caregivers and sitters, Jean Luckett, Lola Walker, Jackie Coats, Jackie Beasley, Nicole Griffin, Ella Brent, Precious Hudson, Tameka Kornegay, Leslie Watson, Ida Turner and Oliva Morris.”
All Primos Cafe locations were closed Wednesday, Dec. 28, in observance of his visitation and funeral service.
Funeral services were held Wednesday, Dec. 28 at Madison Heights Presbyterian Church. Burial was in Grace Cemetery at Madison Heights Church immediately following the service.