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Employment History


Jacksonville Daily Progress

Eastfield Junior College


Caddo Mills High

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Jacksonville Daily Progress: Father remembers son's giving spirit

www.jacksonvilleprogress.com [cached]

Kenneth Vandever

RUSK - Kenneth Vandever, for a change, had everything going for him.
Kenneth was born in Dallas, a "normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill kid," to hear his Dad talk.
Don and his first wife divorced when Kenneth and his brother, Jerry, were in elementary school.
A year later, the original Mrs. Vandever and her husband split up, but the boys, Don said, liked the East Texas lay of the land, saying, "We like it, we're staying here."
When Kenneth graduated from Caddo Mills High in 1983, he had already managed the local Dairy Queen for two years, and he was mapping out a career as an architect.
Less than a week after graduation, he began summer school at Eastfield Junior College in Dallas, making an A- and a B+ in the hardest of his core subjects.
But on Labor Day, Kenneth fell asleep at the wheel of his car, and the ensuing accident resulted in massive head injuries.
He lay in a coma for 10 days.
With his memory and much of his intellect nearly gone, it was impossible for Kenneth to hold a job.
The Vandevers moved to Rusk in 1986, specifically to open the auto parts business, something Don figured could support Kenneth when he was gone.
Don said Kenneth began spending evenings at B-D-J's after he learned that one of the store's female employees was working while pregnant.
"He didn't like to see her mopping and sweeping, so he would do it," he said."It gave him a feeling of being useful, and he liked that.
"And he was upset when Sister Pate (the Rev. Jan Pate's mother) worked.He wanted to be there to help her."
In reality, said Bri'Ann Driver, the store's office manager, Kenneth committed himself to being at the store any night when a lady was working.
"He told us he was our guardian angel," she said.

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