Kenneth McChesney

Centenarian Kenneth McChesney died on Monday, January 24 at the Great River Medical

Center in Burlington, Iowa. The youngest of Lee and Florence Mallory McChesney’s 11 children,

Kenny was born at home on October 21,1921. After graduating from Wapello High School in

1940, Kenny married his beloved bride, Betty Cutkomp, on December 25,1941, at the Wapello

Presbyterian Manse. Kenny and Betty were blessed with a son, Thomas Michael, a daughter,

Sandra Kay (son-in-law, Steve Ehrhardt), five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. In

his later years, Kenny loved recounting to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren how he’d

had his eye on Betty since the 4th grade. Married for 80 years, Kenny’s and Betty’s love for

each other was apparent to all who knew them.

Though Kenny was far too humble to accept the label, he embodied what Tom Brokaw

described as “The Greatest Generation.” A WWII Veteran, Kenny served as a staff sergeant in

the U.S. Army from 1942-1945, and was stationed in the Southwest Pacific with the G-2 section

of the 6th Army Headquarters, where he received a Bronze Star Medal for going above and

beyond the call of duty. Known for his work ethic and integrity, Kenny was the owner of

McChesney Produce for 24 years, a clerk and assistant manager of the Farmers Elevator &

Exchange for 24 years, and sold Pioneer Seed Corn for 24 years.

A man of deep Christian faith, Kenny was one of the Wapello Presbyterian Church’s longest

members, joining in 1939. In his 82-year membership there, he served as a Sunday School

teacher and superintendent, Elder, Clerk of the Session, and Usher.

Proud of being a lifelong Wapello resident, Kenny was always active in the community. He

served on the Wapello School Board, as Treasurer of the Wapello Kiwanis, on the Louisa

County Historical Society’s board, and was a VFW member.

For those who knew him, Kenny didn’t seem to age until he was well into his 90s. He could be

spotted shoveling snow from his rooftop or cleaning out his gutter, with Betty holding the ladder

down below for him, as recently as a few years ago. Kenny and Betty were blessed to live in

their own home for their entire life together, and once they’d stopped traveling, you could find

them at home in the evenings, eating popcorn, playing dominoes or Rummikub, and cheering

on the Iowa Hawkeyes basketball team.

Kenny was preceded in death by his parents, seven brothers (Harold, Raymond [Jack], Rex [Big

Speck], George [Boni], Carl [Sucker], Robert [died in infancy], and Ralph [Little Speck], three

sisters (Helen Ryner, Mildred [Sis] Milligan, and one who died in infancy), his son Tom and

grandson Chris.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to either

the First Presbyterian Church of Wapello or the Louisa County Historical Society Museum.