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Kenneth Willems

Kenneth Edward Willems of West Des Moines, Iowa passed from this earth to his heavenly home on July 26th, 2021. Visitation will be Tuesday, August 3rd, from 5-7pm at Crete Berean Church at 395 County Road 2500, Crete, NE 68333.


Kenneth was born on May 17, 1950, in Waterloo, Iowa to Arnold and Dorothy Willems and grew up in Evansdale, Iowa. He loved playing sports and working at the Evansdale YMCA during his high school years. Upon graduation from Waterloo East High School, Kenneth attended the University of Northern Iowa and graduated from Doane College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Communication. He moved to Crete and worked for Smithfield Foods until retiring in 2017. While in Crete he was involved in Lincoln Berean Church and helped found Crete Berean Church. Upon retirement he relocated to Iowa and enjoyed coming back to the state he grew up in.


Kenneth received so much joy from his family. God blessed him with a wonderful wife Janet in 1983 and together in 1986 they were blessed with a son, Jacob. In recent years he saw his family grow and he flourished as a grandpa. He was very kind and funny and loved to talk and play. He loved music, an interest he shared with his wife and son. Kenneth enjoyed learning languages, welcoming people from other countries and traveling with his wife and son. He was able to visit four continents and more than 20 countries over the course of his life, including Germany where he stayed in his grandfather’s home and Japan where he visited former students he hosted in Nebraska.


Kenneth is preceded in death by his father, Arnold Willems, his brother Ronald Willems, and his brother-in-law Patrick Lyman. Those left to cherish his memory include his wife, Janet Willems; son, Jacob (Shea) Willems; mother, Dorothy Willems; brother, Timothy Willems; sister-in-law, Penny Willems; sister-in-law, Mary Lyman; sister-in-law Barb (Charlie) Kluck; sister-in-law, Mary (Kevin) Ryan; brother-in-law, Thomas (Bette) Lyman; grandchildren, Grady Willems and Emmeline Willems; and many deeply cherished nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, family, and friends.


The family would like to express their gratitude for the caregivers and healthcare providers that cared for him at Mercy One West Lakes and Mercy One Des Moines Medical Center. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to the family to be attributed later to a charity that was important to Kenneth.