Kenneth E. McNeil better known as “Red” passed away January 8, 2020 at age 90.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Bonnie (McAllister) McNeil and their 3 children, sons Michael (Karin) and Kevin (Eileen) McNeil and daughter, Michele (Douglas) Loper. Also surviving are their 6 grandchildren and their 11 great grandchildren.
Ken grew up in the southwest section of Grand Rapids and graduated from Christian High School and Davenport College, where he met Bonnie McAllister—destined to be Bonnie McNeil. As their 3 children grew up the family enjoyed Olin Lake camping, swimming, pontoon boat riding and adopting their Siamese cat, Sy.
Ken loved to sing and sang for over 45 years with Burton Heights Church choir. A highlight of this group was a trip to Mexico for 8 days singing in many churches (in Spanish) and singing in their town square to a large crowd. Ken also sang with The Singing Men of Raybrook Estates for 12 years. Ken and Bonnie enjoyed being young peoples’ leaders in their church and attended many Young Calvinist conventions at several major universities in the United States where they served as living group leaders. These sessions started at 6:30 and ended at midnight. Busy times, little sleep, but wonderful experiences.
Ken was a star basketball player in high school and college. When his school days were over he played competitive basketball, volleyball, and softball around the Midwest. His volleyball team won a state championship. Ken also officiated high school and college basketball, volleyball, and football ball for over 40 years. In his senior years he played softball, tennis and golf, but golf frustrated him.
In 1975 Ken and Bonnie worked together building the McNeil Fastener Company and Hi-Grade Nut & Bolt Company from which he retired in 1992. He and Bonnie enjoyed spending their winters in Florida and Arizona, as well as traveling to Europe and cruising to the Panama Canal and Alaska.
Their trips to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin (they were guardians of Bonnie’s Downs-Sydrome half-brother, Gerald) included making life easier and happier for Gerald and the people in his group home. Pizza and ice cream were their favorite treats.
Ken and Bonnie were instrumental in getting wheelchair ramps installed at the group home, which insured a nice legacy for this special needs group.
After “old age” set in they moved to Raybrook Estates apartments where they were comfortable and enjoyed the indoor pool, indoor parking, elevators, group dinners, air-conditioning and friendships formed.
A Memorial Service will take place Monday, January 13, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. at New Community Church 2340 Dean Lake Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525. The family will greet friends one hour prior to the service.
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