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Kenneth Lee Wallace

August 7, 1953 - March 17, 2019

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Kenneth Lee Wallace “Kenny”, 65, of Madison Heights, formerly of Lynchburg, passed away after a short but courageous battle with pancreatic cancer on Sunday, March 17, 2019 at home with his loving wife at his side.

He was born on August 7, 1953 in Lynchburg, to the late Jack Dexter and the late Lurlene Dodd Wallace. Kenny and his older brother Joe were raised in Madison Heights. Kenny graduated from Amherst County High School in 1971.

Kenny had a strong faith in God from his childhood that carried him through life, even during his battle with cancer. Raised Southern Baptist, Kenny embraced the Methodist faith for part of his adult years, later converting to Catholicism in 2016. Kenny was a proud member of St. Thomas More Catholic Church and loved his church family. Kenny always had a smile on his face and remained positive, encouraging family and friends until his last days. Kenny never met a stranger and often introduced himself as Kenny Wallace, the non-race car driver.

Kenny was a lifelong sports enthusiast who played many sports in his younger years. Later in life, Kenny coached his children, watched them play, and took them to watch their favorite teams. Kenny especially loved college sports and always cheered on his North Carolina Tarheels and Alabama Crimson Tide. Roll Tide!

Kenny loved his family and friends, America, lighthouses, music, the beach, the mountains, cars, and life in general. He played in a band, sang in chorus, and later sang in his church’s choir. Kenny was always up for an adventure and loved visiting new places, nearly always accompanied by his wife, children, grandchildren, or the entire family.

Kenny served with the Army National Guard and was a true patriot. Kenny sold car parts for most of his adult life and worked in outside parts sales and customer logistics support for the past 18 years with Sonny Merryman Incorporated. Kenny loved being a part of the Sonny Merryman family, but reluctantly retired in December 2018, following his diagnosis.

Kenny married Robin Wood in 1982. Kenny and Robin had two children: Stephanie Nicole and Brian Christopher. After Kenny and Robin divorced, Kenny married Sandy Atkins Bottoms in 2000 and became a wonderful, loving stepdad to Sandy’s children: Jennifer Marie, Lauren Michelle, and John D. “Jack” III, who he treated as his own.

Some of the children and grandchildren’s favorite memories of Kenny include: many beach trips, boating at Smith Mountain Lake, playing ball together, hiking in the woods, sports events, and spending time with the extended family. Kenny attended nearly all of the children’s and grandchildren’s activities, from theater and marching band to ball games and concerts. He was a strong supporter of Heritage High School, which all five children attended; Averett College, Brian’s alma mater; Liberty University, Stephanie’s alma mater; and Bridgewater College, Jack’s alma mater.

Stephanie remembers the year Kenny put on Santa boots and stomped around the house on Christmas Eve to keep the kids believing in Santa for one more year. Kenny passed his love of sports on to both of his children and supported Stephanie in all of her activities. Stephanie and Kenny attended many Liberty University games together, both while she was attending L.U. and after her graduation. Kenny was so proud to walk Stephanie down the aisle when she was married in April, 2018 and was looking forward to the grandchildren he knew would eventually arrive.

Kenny coached Brian’s baseball teams through the years and in later years, cheered Brian on from the sidelines in high school and college baseball. Brian and Kenny made several sports trips over the past couple of years including a trip to the SEC championship to watch Brian’s Florida Gators play Kenny’s Alabama Crimson Tide, and a trip to watch a North Carolina Tarheels home basketball game. The Tarheels game was one of Kenny’s bucket list items. After the game was over, Brian took Kenny’s picture with Dick Vitale, also known as “Dickie V”, a well-known college basketball sportscaster. Kenny was proud to be one of Brian’s groomsmen when he was married in October, 2014. Brian and Bryce’s daughter Addilyn Reese was the apple of her Pa’s eye. Kenny and Sandy watched little Reese on Wednesdays and Kenny delighted in seeing Reese grow and learn.

Jenny was married two months after Kenny and Sandy’s wedding and Kenny was a rock of support for Sandy as she prepared to be mother of the bride. Kenny was very close to Jenny, BJ and their son Kyle, who graduates from high school this year. After Jenny and her family moved to Columbus in 2014, Kenny and Sandy visited as often as possible and loved to explore with Jenny and her family.

After Lauren moved out, she visited Sandy and Kenny frequently. For periods of time, Lauren and the children lived with Kenny and Sandy. Her two oldest children, Andrew and Alexis, were very close to their Pa and loved spendovers and adventures with Gan and Pa. Kenny also welcomed Lauren’s stepchildren Delilah and Logan with open arms and baby Ellie, the youngest grandchild, always has a smile for Pa.

Jack and Kenny hit it off well from the start. Like Kenny, Jack loved sports of all types. Although Kenny had never played soccer, he learned the rules of the game as he cheered Jack on through middle school, high school, and college. Kenny and Sandy made many road trips to Bridgewater when Jack was in college. Kenny was looking forward to Jack’s marriage in June to Katie, the love of his life, and already considered Katie’s daughter Kayla as a beloved granddaughter.

When Sandy and Kenny married, they had four middle school and high school kids living at home. Despite the sometimes chaotic pace of life, their focus was always on taking care of their children. Kenny and Sandy were active volunteers with their churches, the children’s schools, marching band, basketball, baseball, theater, concert band, chorus, show choir, soccer, volleyball, forensics, football, and whatever else the kids got involved with. They were fixtures on the sidelines and in the stands at Heritage even after the kids were grown.

Above all, Kenny was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend who loved his family deeply. He never missed an opportunity to brag about the kids and grandkids to friends and strangers alike. Kenny served as an inspiration to us all and we will love and miss him forever. Although we grieve Kenny’s death, we rejoice at his victory over death and know that he’s at peace with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Kenny was a kind, gentle, and wonderful man with a heart for others. His faith was strong and he never stopped fighting. His smile and laughter were contagious and nobody had a bad word to say about Kenny. He had an even temper and only raised his voice on the sidelines to yell, “Call it both ways, blue!” Hundreds of extended family members, former coworkers, neighbors, and lifelong friends have reached out to us by phone, text, or social media during Kenny’s illness and since his death and we are eternally grateful for your love and support. Kenny believed that all things were to be used to the glory of God, whether they were good or bad. He lived what he believed during his cancer journey, sharing positive encouragement, smileys, and a song of the day with friends every morning on Facebook. Kenny will be missed, but never forgotten. He touched so many hearts and was loved by all who knew him.

Kenny was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Joseph Dexter; Sandy’s parents, Robin’s parents; brother-in-law, Jim Reilly, and brother-in-law, Eddie Wong.

Kenny is survived by his beloved wife, Sandy Wallace; children: Stephanie Rivera (Steven), Brian Wallace (Bryce), Jenny Bryant (Kenneth “BJ”), Lauren Titus (Andrew), and John Bottoms III (Katie Kervin); grandchildren: Reese Wallace, Kyle Bryant, Andrew Ham, Alexis Ham, Ellie Titus, Delilah Titus, Logan Titus and Kayla Stanley; sister-in-law Laura Wallace; nephews: Andrew Wallace (Tiffany) and Jonathan Wallace (Ashley) and their families; sisters-in-law, Sue Atkins, Sister Kathy Atkins, Debbie Reilly, and Nancy Fairchild (Bill Woerner) and their families; brothers-in-law, Bob Atkins (Jeana), Mike Atkins (Mako Shimoda), and Pat Atkins and their families.

Kenny is also survived by Robin Wood, his friend and the mother of his children and her husband, Kenneth Sprouse; cousins: Janice Housman, Joyce Kidd, Joan Mann, Steve Chambliss and their families; the Sonny Merryman family; the St. Thomas More family; and countless friends too many to list.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, March 21 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, 220 Breezewood Drive, Lynchburg, VA 24502.

Visitation will also be held on Friday, March 22 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 3015 Roundelay Road, Lynchburg, VA 24502, followed by a Mass of Christian burial at 12:15 p.m. A reception and burial follow the Mass. Burial will be at Virginia Memorial Park, 11490 Forest Road, Forest, VA 24551. Memorial donations may be made to St. Thomas More Catholic Church or the charity of your choice.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.

Click here to view Kenny’s Life Tributes video.

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