Last night while working on my blog post, we got news that changed our life. We learned Tom's father passed away, seemingly from a massive heart attack. At 63, he was too young and full of life (he'd add, piss and vinegar) to have his life cut short. We are saddened by the sudden loss of a beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend.
Kenneth Rhyneer (Ken or Poppa Kenny as he was known to his grandkids) was born in St. Louis, one of 10 kids. He served in the Air Force and then devoted a 45-year career to PPG, lastly as a supervisor -- Tom use to kid that his daddy really was a glass maker. He was married to Gwen in 1970, and later married Elizabeth (Ann) in 1990. Ken and Ann settled in Decatur, Illinois.
My fondest memories of Ken are from a few years back when we visited their home on Constant View Drive. The house itself is modest, but the backyard was recently selected to be part of a garden tour because it is incredibly spectacular. Ken and Ann poured so much love into the space, filled with blooming flowers, a koi pond, bird houses gallore, a variety of critters, a huge wood deck and a massive above-ground pool that made for perfect lazy, steamy summer days. They also built an expansive garden where they grew a ton of different vegetables, including a favorite of both Ken and Lucas -- tomatoes.
Here's how I will remember Ken: He loved driving his pick-up truck, so much so he drove it all the way from Illinois to Miami for our wedding. He enjoyed sitting on the back porch, smoking a cigarette and drinking his morning coffee. A favorite pasttime was watching baseball with his dog curled by his side. An avid fisherman, he passed this same love to Tom. He was a hard worker, devoted to his craft and his company. Always ready with a smile or laugh, he had a wicked sense of humor. He was very handy and could build or fix just about anything. Passionate about his garden, he spent hours tending to it, while picking and eating tomatoes right off the vine. He loved his family, especially the many grandkids who will miss his silly antics. He was kind and thoughtful...although he was a Bud Light enthusiast, he kept chilled microbrews stocked just for me.
We love and will miss him, and are comforted by many good memories.
Lucas and Poppa Kenny during our last visit with him and Ann, in October 2010.