Kenneth Read Obituary

Kenneth  Read
Kenneth Read
Kenneth Read

January 4, 1944 - February 27, 2021
Born in Winterset
Resided in West Des Moines, IA
  • Contat Us
  • Videos
  • Guestbook
  • Photos
  • Services
  • Send Flowers


Kenneth Charles Read (Ken, Kenny), 77, West Des Moines, Iowa, Feb. 27, 2021, died peacefully at home after living with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) for more than 17 years. Visitation from 4-6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4 at Iles Funeral Home, Westover Chapel, 6337 Hickman Road, Des Moines. Funeral at 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 5, in the same location. Please come as you are--Kenny preferred casual settings and attire. The man detested wearing suits.

Kenny was born on January 4, 1944 in Winterset, Iowa, the sixth child of Nelson Read and Addie (Dale) Read. He had four older brothers, Gerald, Donald, Clifford, and Paul, and one sister, Pat, who was her baby brother's look-out/protector from his four older brothers who once (lovingly) threw him off the porch in a baby buggy. The Read boys were notorious for being athletic, stubborn and strong! But they couldn't beat their 4'11' mom in arm wrestling until they were grown men...You didn't cross Addie Read! Kenny graduated from Winterset high school where he played football and set records in track and field. His senior year, his football team, the Huskies, went undefeated, and he was proud of that until his last day. He could remember every play like it was yesterday.

His legendary strength and stubbornness are probably why he lived with ALS for so long. He was famous for wearing shorts in the dead of winter (even shoveling snow barefoot in shorts), he could rip a full-sized phone book in half, and he could lift and carry refrigerators and heavy furniture without help. His nickname on the golf course was the "gorilla" because his "tee" shots would go 400 yards. Even after developing ALS, his handshakes could crush your fingers.

Kenny was a loyal and respected outside salesman for Gilcrest-Jewett lumber for nearly 30 years. He was known for getting to the office between 4-4:40 a.m. and also earned the nickname 'the candy man' for always having bowls of candy on hand for his coworkers, clients and visitors. (His grandkids remember Grandpa's candy drawer at home too, and his daughters loved going to work with Kenny when they were little so they could raid his gum and candy drawer). Gilcrest-Jewett was incredibly generous to Kenny and Lissa since day one of his fight with ALS, always going the extra mile to make accommodations that would allow Kenny to keep working and stay mobile as long as possible. And they didn't forget Kenny after he retired.

Kenny was always a survivor, having survived polio as a teenager. He was and continues to be an inspiration to his many friends, family and acquaintances. His warm, genuine smile and happy heart will be forever missed. Kenny was preceded in death by his parents, Nelson and Addie Read, sister Pat, and brothers Gerald and Donny. He is survived by his wife Melissa (Lissa) Read; daughters from his first wife, Linda Hall: Pamela and husband Dion Reihs, Raymore, MO; Melissa and husband Doug Jackson, Kansas City, MO; and Angela and husband Steve Doyal, Overland Park, KS; stepson Christopher and wife Becca Hodges; brothers Cliff and Paul, grandkids Taylor and husband Para, Logan and wife Brynn, Eric and wife Emily, Maddie, Sammy, Kate, Henry, Greta, Gabby, Michael and Milo, and great-grandkids Ozias, and (born only nine hours before he passed away), twin great-grandsons Asa and Azial. He was able to see pictures of them and they brought a huge smile to "Grandpa Kenny's" face.

Thank you to the Suncrest Hospice nurses (Morgan, Jackie and CNA Elena) and neighbor/friend nurse Lydia and nursing student Heather who took such loving care of him in his final days. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Kenny's honor to your local ALS Association chapter.





Iles Westover Chapel
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Thursday, March 4, 2021
4:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Iles Westover Chapel
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Friday, March 5, 2021
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM