People of Pittsburg: K.O. Noonoo
‘Doing what I’m supposed to do’
Val Vita | Managing Editor
In 1997, K. O. Noonoo was studying for an accounting exam. He was already tired because of the amount of work he brought home every day from the office. His wife, Anna,
asked him a question that night that changed his life forever.
“She asked me if in 10 years I could see myself happy doing this,” Noonoo said. “That forced me to look down. And that was the beginning of the turn.”
After that, he decided to become a pastor, and today he is a reverend at the first Presbyterian Church, 520 N. Pine St., in Pittsburg. However, he says it was a long road to his current position.
Noonoo was born in a small town in Ghana, a country in West Africa. The first initial of his name, K, means Kweku, which in his country means a boy born on a Wednesday. So it is the same as many other boys in Ghana.
He says growing up in Ghana was all about education. He had never left the country until he came to the United States in 1990. Noonoo was 20 then and his family had sent him to the United States to study, get a good job and send money back to help them. He says being a pastor wasn’t in his mind at the time.
“I never wanted to be a pastor,” he said. “But it ended up being a good decision. I’m doing what I am supposed to do, and not what I feel forced to do it.”
Leaving Africa and entering a new culture was a shock, he says, because everything was different.
“The food, the weather… But it was a good experience. You have to make it work,” Noonoo said. “Today, I consider the United States my home.”
He attended college in Jamestown, N.D., to study accounting. Noonoo met Anna during his second year. Anna was an American scientist who was studying at the same university.
“I fell in love with her because of the interest she offered,” Noonoo said. “People are always in a hurry, and greeting people is a formality. People ask how you’re doing without really caring. Anna was sincerely interested in how I was doing. And that was different. Today she is a great friend, wonderful spouse and a great blessing.”
They got married in 1995 and have three kids, whom they preferred to educate at home. Betty is 16, Emma is 9, and Caleb is 6, and they all had homeschool classes with Anna. On Thursdays, Noonoo’s day off from church, he teaches their kids, so Anna has time for herself.
Noonoo says his family is going to have a sabbatical period for a few months after April. He and Anna will go to Hawaii, and then their whole family will go to Europe and Ghana for one month. Only his youngest son has never been to Ghana. The goal of these trips, according to Noonoo, is relationship renewal.
Noonoo has been living in Pittsburg with his family since 2005.
“It’s a tremendous place,” he said. “What stands out to me is how many people know other people by their first name. I’ve been living in many places and it’s not normal that people go by a first-name basis and get along that well. I know a lot of people by their first name, and they know me.”