Kenneth James Black was born June 26, 1926, on the family farm one-fourth mile south of Lenox to Edgar and Etta (Recknor) Black. He left this life on May 12, 2008, to rejoin departed family and friends after a long illness with lung disease. Kenny grew up on the farm, enjoyed riding horses and attended country school. He was a life-long member of the Lenox Methodist Church beginning as a member of the Cradle Roll.
He graduated from Lenox High School in 1944, went on to serve in the United States Army as Corporal in Company B of the 328th Engineering Combat Battalion during the Korean conflict as a chauffeur to Army Generals and foreign dignitaries in Washington, D. C. Upon his honorable discharge he served 10 years in the Army Reserve and travelled annually to Camp McCoy for training. He later joined the American Legion Post 250 and served as Commander and recently received his 60 year certificate of service.
In his youth, Kenny could be found running the projector at the Lenox movie theater on weekends. After high school and upon returning from the service he drove a truck for Miller and Roy Trucking. In 1950 he became a salesman for Dixon Motor Company. He won numerous Ford Motor Company 300-500 Club sales awards over the course of his 34 years with Ford. Later Kenny and Bud Carey purchased Dixon Motor and operated it until closing in 1984.
Kenny found his life partner, Clytha Spring and they married July 12, 1952. They welcomed three children into their family: Janell, Kenneth James Jr (Jim), and Sheila. They were blessed with three grandchildren Chris, Andy, and Rebecca and one great granddaughter Keira.
Kenny served his community in several different capacities. He served as a volunteer on the Lenox Fire Department for over 21 years, multiple terms on the Lenox City Council, Taylor County Sheriff’s Posse, and was Civil Defense Director of Taylor County for many years. Kenny was an original member of the Taylor County Historical Society and served on the Board of Directors. He was instrumental in procuring land for the museum, getting the Round Barn moved to the Bedford site, and was one of the grounds keepers.
In 1955 he passed through the Degrees of the Tremont Masonic Operative Lodge No. 343 and also became a member of the Salome Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star serving as officers in both. He later served as Rainbow Dad for Janell and Sheila.
He had many hobbies and activities to occupy his time. He spent time mowing Wilson’s Lake and watered the trees twice a week when the park first started. Kenny and Clytha started the Country Goose craft business in 1980 and created crafts until his health failed and he was no longer able to run the saw and do the sanding.
As an amateur photographer he enjoyed taking pictures of his family, civic events, and sites around town. He was creative and innovative as shown when he designed and built the “Stars for Illinois Street” annual Christmas display.
During his years as a member of the Sheriff’s Posse he helped with the Pony Express ride and spent countless hours parking cars for community events and was a trained weather spotter. He spent time qualifying at the target range and taught his son and grandchildren valuable safety and target lessons.
Through the years he always gardened. He made this a family event involving the kids and later the grandchildren. Kenny grew a record turnip that measured 23 inches around and weighed nearly 6 pounds. He loved to share the bounties of the garden with friends and neighbors. He loved spending time with his grandchildren passing on his knowledge to them and enjoying reading stories to his great-granddaughter Keira.
Preceding him in death were his mother Etta and father Edgar, brother Raymond and father-in-law Clyde Spring. Left to cherish his memory are his wife Clytha of 55 years, daughters Janell Black, Jim (Peggy) Black, Sheila (Dwaine) Mansfield. Three grandchildren Rebecca Weaver-Armes (Neil Hauser) of West Des Moines, Iowa; Chris Black of Redondo Beach, California; and Andy Black of Polk City, Iowa. He is also survived by one great granddaughter Keira Hauser, his mother-in-law Winnie Spring of Lenox and Raymond’s daughter Deb Black-Ralston (Jim Ralston) of Fontana, California. Surviving siblings are sister Betty (Dean) Weller of Sharpsburg and his brother Don of Lenox. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.