Mr. Kenneth Ray Kirkendall, 89, passed away on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
Kenneth Kirkendall was born on August 27, 1930, in Silsbee Texas to John Wilburn Kirkendall and Ethel Allen.
Kenneth Ray Kirkendall was a hardworking and remarkable man. His life is a testament to the devout love he had for his family. He spent every day of his life thinking about, working for and taking care of his wife, and family. He never hesitated to take care of his children or grandchildren.
Kenneth grew up 4 miles north of Silsbee, the middle child between two sisters, Melba and Mary. His family made syrup on their farm and his dad, Wilburn Earl Kirkendall, worked at Kirby Lumber Company. He loved riding his wagon down “ol’ steepy” the hill on their property and he rode a horse to school every day because they lived so far out of town. He learned to make chicken and dumplings from his mother, Ethel Allen Kirkendall, and it was his signature dish.
He met his wife, Joyce, at Alford’s Furniture Store in Silsbee where he worked. She went in on a pretend shopping trip for a coffee table, just so she could talk to him. This scheme worked because they fell in love and eventually decided to elope!
Kenneth served his country in the United States Air Force. After his tour of duty he came back to Southeast Texas and began working as a pipefitter at Jefferson Chemical eventually moving his family to Lumberton because he thought it was a good distance from the plant - to keep his family safe.
He built his first house in Lumberton, from wood from his father’s lumber mill. He was a lifelong member of the Democratic Party. His life philosophy was deeply set in hard work and honesty.
Kenneth was also a servant to his community. He valued education and wanted to make sure his three children had the best, so he ran for school board. During his time served, they built the first high school (now the middle school) for Lumberton ISD. Kenneth also served as the Fire Chief for Lumberton and was instrumental in the naming of the town. When the fire department was founded between Chance and Loeb it was decided they would name it after the railroad switch nearby, which was the “Lumberton switch” and thus the name was born and the city later incorporated in 1976.
After retiring from Texaco Chemical, as Superintendent of Maintenance twice, Kenneth traveled the US with his wife in their motorhome. He also found plenty of time to do the things he loved most; fish, hunt, golf and play with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Kenneth loved his grandchildren; he spent years of his life being the most important thing “Pepaw.”
Kenneth had the best sense of humor; he kept his family smiling with funny songs and unexpected jokes. He always loved and supported his family. He will be remembered for showering his family with unending loyalty, devotion, and pride. He was a lifesaver in the true meaning of the word. He held every baby that was ever brought to him. He rode miles and miles on his bicycle, and he loved his dog Gigi. Kenneth was a smart, tough, brave, loyal, funny, and generous son of God; and he is surely telling a funny story in Heaven right now.
Left to cherish his memory is his wife of 70 years, Joyce Kirkendall of Lumberton; daughters, Debra Boettger and husband Rowland Boettger of Groves, and Terri Gloede and husband Bill Gloede, of Lumberton; 5 grandchildren: Amber Neugent, Chad Hartman, Amy Haden, Kirk Hartman and Lesly Johnson; 24 great grandchildren, and 11 great-great grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by his parents, John and Ethel Kirkendall of Silsbee; son, John Lamar Kirkendall of Lumberton; sisters, Melba Gore and Mary Johnson.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Southeast Texas Food Bank in his memory.
We would like to give a special thanks to Pachine Holmes, Beth Snider and Elvie Villaran for their care and compassion to Mr. Kirkendall and the family.
A life honoring visitation service will be held on Saturday, June 13, 2020 at First Baptist Lumberton, 1206 S. Main St. Lumberton, TX 77657, from 10:00-11:00 AM with a funeral service following. There will be a graveside service following at Rest Haven Cemetery in Silsbee, TX.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Kenneth Ray Kirkendall, please visit our floral store.