Wilbur William "Bill" Kennett

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Wilbur William "Bill" Kennett, 91, of Midland, died peacefully July 5, 2016. Bill was born Sept. 30, 1924 in North Star to Arthur Charles and Lula (Markham) Kennett. He spent most of his childhood in Perrington and graduated from Fulton High School. Following a short stint at Central Michigan College and employment at The Dow Chemical Co., Bill entered the U.S. Army during World War II.

After completing basic training at Camp Barkley, Texas, Bill was attached to hospital ships at Camp Stoneman, Calif., as a member of the medical corps. Army Specialized Training at Oregon State University followed before being assigned to the signal corps. The drum and bugle corps was a highlight during his stop at Fort Monmouth, N.J., before he headed to Camp Kohler, Calif., and Camp Crowder, Mo., He deployed to Hawaii before participating in the invasion of Okinawa. At the end of World War II, he spent time in Japan rebuilding the telephone system. After attending Michigan State College where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering, he became a professional engineer and worked for The Dow Chemical Co. from 1942 to 1990 with time out while in the Army and at MSU. During his time at Dow, he held positions in research, production, economic evaluation, insurance, loss prevention and real estate.

On Aug. 28, 1949, Bill and Bonnie Horman married at the Alma College Chapel and celebrated 65 years of marriage before Bonnie passed away July 9, 2015.

Bill, an eternal optimist who loved life and people, has given many hours of his time to family, friends, community and his country. His grandchildren could always count on seeing grandpa at their activities. The development of children was a high priority, as attested by his involvement in Little League and Pee Wee football along with serving on the Midland Public School Board of Education as treasurer and president.

He was active in the community as a member of the Jaycees and Kiwanis along with being the organizing president of Midland Area Homes and a member of the Delta College organizing committee. As Dow Chemical's representative to the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce, he served as president and an appointment to the State of Michigan Governor's Executive Corps in the insurance bureau. For his volunteering, Bill received The Dow Chemical President's Award for Community Service. The City of Midland and Grand Rapids were the recipients of his expertise as he helped set up self-insurance programs in both cities. He attended Memorial Presbyterian Church, where he served as a deacon and elder. After retiring, Bill continued his life of service as he was appointed to the Midland County Council on Aging Board of Directors, where he served as president and was active in the Tri- County Economic Club.

Bonnie and Bill thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to travel. The pair visited five different continents, including Okinawa on the 50th anniversary of the invasion. They made two trips to visit friends and relatives in England and Ireland. Another trip took them to Tonga, to visit their son, Kevin in the Peace Corps.

Bill is survived by children, John (Linda) Kennett and Kevin (Marcia) Kennett, Shari Kennett and husband R.T. Paullin III, and Pesi Kennett; grandchildren, Benjamin Kennett, Katherine (Cassidy) Steele, Michael Kennett, Kasey Kennett and Mackenzie, Molly and Michael Woodman; and brother-in-law, Ronald Horman; along with many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by Bonnie; sisters, Bernice Fuller and Nilah Cumming; brother, Rollin Kennett; and sister-in-law, Sheila Pratt.

Bill's extended family included the "Gang": Don and Niki Beckwith, Max and Martha Bottomley, Al and Carolyn Gunkler, Larry and Janet Lang, Pete and Gloria Lehman, Mike and Grace Merrill, Bob and Marge Mesler, and Bob and Helen Ward.

Funeral services will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, July 11, 2016 at the Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1310 Ashman St., with the Rev. Dr. Wallace H. Mayton III officiating. Bill's family will receive friends at the Ware-Smith-Woolever Funeral Home, 1200 W. Wheeler St. on Thursday, July 7 from 6-8 p.m., Friday from 4-6 p.m. and Monday, July 11 from 10 a.m. until the until time of service. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider the Senior Services of Midland County, the Toni & Trish House, the Kennett Athletic Fund at the Midland Area Community Foundation, or the Kennett Women's Fund at the Saginaw Foundation.

Funeral Home
Ware-Smith-Woolever Funeral Home - Midland
1200 W. Wheeler St
Midland, MI 48640
(989) 631-2292
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Published in Midland Daily News on July 7, 2016
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