Kenny Vanlandingham was one of the most mirthful individuals anyone ever could know. His personality exuded joy and happiness, which he shared with everyone he met. Kenny had been born in Norfolk a year before the Second World War began for America. After being raised there, he served his country in the U. S. Marine Corps, following which he sojourned in the Shenandoah Valley and Maryland.
He came to the Northern Neck and started his career working for many years on the water as a crabber, a role that suited him well, before taking employment first with Hale Marine, and then with the former Wardico in Warsaw, from which position he retired, spending his leisure years with his wife, Sylvia, at their home in downtown Sunnybank. In retirement Kenny’s orbit was Reedville, where he truly had found his niche.
Sylvia is known to folks all over the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula due to her exceptionally brilliant career in the banking profession. I use the term “brilliant” without thought of contradiction, as her years in banking were characterized by an awesome memory for statistical details and a deep-rooted knowledge of all aspects of finance.
When one called the bank to speak with her, from memory she would ask by the numbers which account the person was referencing. Later, she went into the area of credit cards, again demonstrating total knowledge with all aspects of borrowing and lending. In whichever field she worked, Sylvia’s customers always came first, and that was her trademark.
Once I complimented Kenny on his modesty and humility, and he asked what led me to make such a remark. I replied that despite being married to such a profound financial genius, he never let that fact go to his head, and he was a “normal” person. He commented, “Who me?”, and laughed profusely.
Five years ago, when Sylvia and Kenny celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, Kenny was the life of the party, table-hopping to greet everyone, and having an experience worthy of the occasion. For all those present, Kenny was “there with bells on.” Kenny’s nature was to be happy and to do his part to make those he encountered as happy as he was. For Kenny, happiness was meant to be shared.
Sadly, that joyous occasion was followed by a protracted period in which Kenny suffered from dementia. Sylvia and his family were able to keep him at home, giving him the loving care that he had merited by the exemplary life he had led. Earlier this month Kenny died in his home. His ebullient personality and boundless energy in doing the things that were important to him serve as a model for others to follow. Many accolades could be given to Kenny; perhaps the most telling is to say that he spent his own life infusing a spirit of joy in others.
Carroll Kenneth Vanlandingham Jr., known to all as “Kenny”, September 17, 1940 – May 8, 2022. R.I.P.