RUSK - Kenneth Vandever
, for a change, had everything going for him.
was born in Dallas, a "normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill kid," to hear his
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.
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
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.
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
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.
told us he
was our guardian angel," she