Editor’s note: This story is part of a series about Oklahomans who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read the stories of other Oklahomans here. Have you lost a loved one to COVID-19? Help us tell their story. 

Kenneth McNeice was a skilled woodworker who could “literally build anything,” his son says.

Even when macular degeneration started to affect his vision, McNeice continued the craft. After his son, Don McNeice, had a leak in his kitchen that ruined his cabinets last year, Kenneth McNeice volunteered to help him build new ones. 

“Working with him was just such a pleasure,” Don McNeice said. “We had reached the point in our relationship that crossed the line from just father and son to a true relationship built on mutual respect and love.”

Kenneth McNeice died in Bartlesville on Dec. 13, 2020, from complications of COVID-19. He was 85.

He enjoyed going on camping trips with his family and sitting by the fire. He loved to tell jokes and would often tell the same ones over and over again. Before he could finish a joke, Kenneth McNeice would burst out laughing. 

“His laughter was so spontaneous that you would be laughing before he finished the joke,” Don McNeice said. 

Kenneth McNeice was born in 1935 in Wichita, Kansas. Shortly after graduating high school there, he joined the U.S. Navy. He served as a Navy machinist’s mate until he was honorably discharged in 1958. 

When he returned to Wichita after serving in the Navy, he married Wanda Heritage McNeice. The couple raised three sons together. 

Kenneth McNeice joined the Wichita Fire Department and retired as captain in 1978. 

He also was an active member of Dewey First Church of the Nazarene and held many jobs there. 

Kenneth McNeice is survived by his wife; sons Don, Scott and Gary; sisters Ruth Everhart and Karen Leatherman; grandchildren Jeremy and Caitlin McNeice, Lindsey and Jason Cunningham, Allyson Todd, Andrea and Phillip Knight, Mallory and Kyle Thomas, Clay McNeice, Nolan McNeice, Dahlia McNeice, Bella McNeice; and 10 great -grandchildren.

“He loved people. He would go out of his way to help anyone in need,” Don McNeice said.  “(He) was kind hearted and compassionate. As a father and husband he worked hard to support his family.”