Kendra Williams Obituary

Kendra L. Williams
Kendra L. Williams

June 11, 1973 - September 2, 2019
Born in Buffalo, New York
Resided in West Des Moines, Iowa
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Complications from acute myeloid leukemia led to the beginning of eternal life for Kendra L. Williams, 46, of West Des Moines, on September 2, 2019. Originally from Buffalo, New York, Kendra spent her life seeking new places to travel to and to live in. Now, her spirit will get to see all of the places she missed.

Her celebration of life service will take place at 10:00am on Saturday, September 14, 2019, at Plymouth United Church of Christ. She wants the guests to know that black attire is optional. Don’t be afraid to dress in bright colors, as she always did.

Kendra read voraciously throughout her life and always noticed and appreciated the little things: a good book, a beautiful flower, a stunning water view, a purple-ish and pink twilight, a great meal, a kind friend, a loving husband and a sweet son. When she was 9 years old and her family lived in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, she was running toward the back of her house when a thought came out of the blue: “I’m never going to be a grandma.” That moment fueled her decision to live each day fully and not take anything for granted.

Her grandfather died on Easter Sunday in 1983, and because her family couldn’t seem to talk about it, she became a writer by starting a diary. It was the beginning of a long and fulfilling career as an award-winning writer and editor. She worked at several newspapers, covering school districts, crime, food, city councils, agriculture, religion and general feature stories. On September 11, 2001, when the editor at her paper didn’t see the significance of the events that morning, Kendra took on that role and sent out a team of 10 reporters in the Chicago area to record. A few days later, she was named editor. She would continue as a writer and editor for 13 years, ending her career as the senior travel editor at Midwest Living magazine after a diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis in 2014.

A year later, a diagnosis of high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome began a grueling five-year journey through MDS, and later, acute myeloid leukemia. But she never lost her desire to travel and experience new places, even if her family had to cancel at the last minute because of her health. As a kid, she saw the world’s beautiful wild animals during a safari in Kenya. And stood 6 feet from Pope John Paul II on her visit to the Vatican. She watched the Vienna Choir Boys give a concert in Vienna, Austria (and another one a few years ago in Chicago), and tried to learn to ski in Salzburg. She visited the Hans Christian Andersen memorial in Copenhagen and the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. She stayed in a castle near London and later, went with her husband, Mark, to tour Highclere Castle, the setting for one of her favorite shows, Downton Abbey. As an adult, she found herself in Acadia National Park in Maine, the Black Hills and Badlands in South Dakota (the most spiritual place she had ever visited); and whale watching in the Puget Sound. She and Mark married in Negril, Jamaica, and their last trips as a family were to St. Pete Beach, Fla and Duluth, MN. We could use this whole page talking about her travels and loves and gratitude.

Mark and their son, Colin, took such good care of her these past five years, and Kendra cherished the memories they made together at Colin’s basketball games, the Raccoon River Dog Park and on trips together. She will be with them forever.

Survivors include her parents, Bonnie Williams of Maineville, Ohio; Bill Williams and Pat Poole of Chestertown, Maryland; a sister, Kristen Williams Haught (Denver); her three nieces, Grace, Emily and Audrey Haught; an aunt, uncle and cousins in Buffalo; as well as her tight group of friends from Plymouth Church, who did yeoman’s work to help take care of her during her illness.

Please do not send flowers (especially lilies); Kendra would prefer that you support the following organizations: UNICEF, the USO, the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.





Memorial Service
Plymouth Congregational Church
4126 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312
Saturday, September 14, 2019
10:00 AM
Plymouth Memorial Gardens, Des Moines
4126 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Saturday, September 14, 2019