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Intervarsity Christian Fellowship
Life Story / Obituary
“Take My Life, And Let It Be” (Frances Ridley Havergal) Kenley Richard Lee was born September 21, 1938 to Arthur Clayton and Doris Lee. He grew up on a farm in Bangor, MI with his seven siblings. They had cows and chickens but primarily grew fruit, including apples, peaches, and cherries. He learned the value of hard work and the importance of family. He admired his mother for always being able to fill a table with food and feed a large family despite frequent challenging circumstances. Growing up on a farm also cultivated Ken’s mechanical skills as he tinkered with everything from pocket watches to tractors and engines. Often improvising, Ken learned how to fix anything. He became skilled at electrical work, plumbing, and carpentry. He carried this aptitude forward throughout the rest of his life. His wife would later quip that “you can take the boy off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.”
“Be Thou My Vision” (Audrey Assad) After graduating from Bangor High School, he attended the Moody Bible College to pursue his interest in music and hymns. He later attended Western Michigan University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics and master’s degree in chemistry. While at Western, he participated in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. There he met the love of his life, Mary Claire DeVries. One day she was playing the piano when she winked at the person next to Ken, but Ken winked back. They later married on February 19, 1965.
“Faith of Our Fathers” (Frederick W. Faber and Henry F. Hemy) Following his time at Western, Ken accepted a job offer with Dow Chemical in Midland. But over time he gradually began to feel that he might be better suited for a line of work that was more people centered. After seven years and with Mary’s encouragement, he enrolled in the University of Michigan Dental School in Ann Arbor. Ken and Mary soon thereafter started their family with the birth of Andrea Rae in December 1971 and Erik John in May 1973. Ken loved being a father. He relished coming home from school and being greeted at the door by his young family. He lovingly took his little ones for rides on one of his motorcycles or the tike-bike, and endlessly captured all the special moments with countless photos and movies. Following graduation from dental school, Ken and Mary returned to West Michigan. They initially resided in Wyoming, where they welcomed their second daughter, Kendra Marie. Ken wanted his family to have special memories and experiences. He took his family camping, skiing, canoeing, and snowmobiling. Not suited to extravagance, he had a predilection for accommodations requiring outhouses, much to Mary’s chagrin. Nonetheless, fun and love always abounded.
“Great is Thy Faithfulness” (Chris Rice) Ken and Mary ultimately settled in Grandville, where they raised their children, formed lasting friendships, and established a genuine home where anyone was welcome. Ken’s outgoing personality and desire to care for others led him to spontaneously invite people to join his family for Sunday dinner. His kind and caring nature made all who interacted with him feel loved and valued. As a family, the Lees became faithful members of First Evangelical Covenant church, where Ken taught Sunday school, served as a deacon and an elder, and sang in the choir. Ken and Mary were forever on the lookout for new attendees at church, always desiring to help them make connections and grow in faith. Above all else, Ken was passionate about sharing his faith, always desiring that all know the love of God.
“How Great Thou Art” (Carl Boberg) Ken started his dental practice in Jenison. He tirelessly devoted his energies to building a bustling, busy dental office and viewed his dental practice as his mission field. His integrity and work ethic guided his actions. He served as a mentor and friend to his employees. Seeking to remain faithful to the Lord, his primary concern was that every individual with whom he came into contact would have the hope of salvation.
“Amazing Grace” (John Newton) Ken and Mary viewed their resources as gifts from God that were to be shared with others. Whether it was taking their children’s friends on outings, sending their kids to camp, inviting others into their home, or sharing boat trips and plane rides, Ken genuinely loved others as God did. He also had the gift of talking to anyone about anything. His children became accustomed to being stuck at church, a restaurant, or a grocery store while their father greeted a “friend.” He and Mary used their home to host missionaries, pastors, and extended family. They purchased and later rebuilt a cottage home in Grand Haven on the shore of Lake Michigan. Serving as a gathering place for family and friends, this second home would later become their primary residence. Most knew an invite was not required and that anyone could stop by at any time.
“Joy to the World” (Isaac Watts) Idleness was not a trait Ken possessed, as he was forever running around town for one purpose or another. Whether he wanted to buy a vehicle or tool at the cheapest possible price, fix his Cessna plane, take one of his watercrafts out for a spin, or simply go exploring, he was always on a mission. Extraordinarily talented in repairing just about anything, he built and installed his own dental office cabinetry and engineered and maintained his own dental equipment. When his office vacuum system needed an unattainable part, he legendarily used a racquetball to keep it going. He was also an avid University of Michigan sports fan. He loved cheering on the Boys in Blue and was successful in sharing this passion with his children and grandchildren. Teaching his grandchildren to sing Hail to the Victors, he practically ensured that their first words would be “Go Blue.”
“He Touched Me” (Bill Gaither) Family meant everything to Ken. He created countless memories for his three children and eleven grandchildren, and he welcomed each of his children’s spouse as his own son or daughter. He beamed with pride and cherished each grandchild, relishing in their triumphs and encouraging their interests. He sought special experiences with each one, such as bonfires on the beach, fishing on the lake, rides in his airplane, or just going to get a treat.
“It Is Well With My Soul” (Horatio Spafford) Ken will be remembered for many things but most of all for his genuine kindness, gentleness, integrity, and generosity. He always made you feel welcome and loved, just as you are. A kinder soul there has never been. And he always knew what he believed and where he was eventually going. As we say goodbye and as he reunites with his beloved wife Mary, there can be no doubt where he has gone and where we will see him again.
Dr. Kenley Richard Lee, aged 82, of Grand Rapids, MI went to be with his Lord on Wednesday March 17, 2021 in Sarasota, FL. He was born in Grand Junction, MI on September 21, 1938 to Arthur and Doris Lee. Ken attended Bangor High School, Moody Bible Institute, and Western Michigan. He received his doctorate of Dentistry from the University of Michigan in 1974 and practiced family dentistry in Jenison Michigan for 35 years. He was a devoted husband, father and friend. A kind, humble, gentle man with a passion for loving people, Ken poured himself into his family and friends. He was an active member at 1st Evangelical Covenant where he sung in the choir and served as a Deacon, an Elder and a Sunday School teacher. He passionately shared his faith, often through musical solos in his beautiful tenor voice. He was an avid Michigan family, successfully sharing that love with his family. He is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Mary C. Lee, his parents, Arthur and Doris Lee, his brothers, Joseph and Roscoe Lee and his sister, Artha Mae. Ken is survived by his children, Drs Andrea and Daniel Hume, Dr Erik and Brooke Lee, and Kendra and Jamie Tait; his grandchildren Jakob (Colbie), McKenna, and Kami Lee, Nathan and Alex Hume, and Noah, Allie, MaryClaire, AnnaLyn, Luke and Liam Tait; his siblings Phil and Jan Lee, Cindy and Richard Robertson, Nancy and Joe Capps and Dave Lee; as well as countless nieces and nephews. A service to celebrate Ken's life will be held on Friday, March 26 at 11:00 am at First Evangelical Covenant Church, 1933 Tremont Blvd NW in Grand Rapids MI, 49504. Relatives and Friends may meet the family at First Evangelical Church on Thursday March 25 from 6-8 pm. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at https://donate.intervarsity.org/donate#13694 or mail to the church or funeral home. Loving, generous, and compassionate, his life continues to serve as an example of how to love God and others. His three children, their spouses, and his eleven grandchildren will carry this legacy. Heritage Life Funeral Home 2120 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504. https://heritagelifestory.com.