This obituary is part of ‘We Will Remember’, a series about those we have lost to the coronavirus.
Kenneth Rye was known for his charming personality and infectious smile. His relatives jokingly referred to it as the “Ken Rye charm” and said that anyone who met him immediately knew what that meant.
Rye, 79, died on April 9, 2020 at Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn, due to complications from COVID-19.
The oldest of three children, Rye grew up in Dearborn Heights and graduated from Fordson High School in Dearborn. He was a carpenter and built bridges. He worked for Midwest Bridge and Holloway and was a foreman for both companies before retiring.
Rye, who lived alone after wife Pamela K. Rye died of cancer seven years ago, was very active. His talents were many, said daughter Abbey Coleman, who recalled that her father could make, repair or create anything.
“He would work wonders with the bridges he’s worked on all his life, but he was also able to make me a small parrot figurine from shells he found at a garage sale,” she said.
Coleman described her father as an interlocutor.
“He loved to talk to everyone about anything for as long as he could. He was interested in what you had to say, even if he didn’t agree.”
There was also another side of him. Coleman remembered that her father liked to discuss topics like sports or history, and he talked about you and louder than you to make sure his point was heard.
Rye loved his family and often bragged about his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He taught others the importance of family, Coleman said.
When he was young, Rye enjoyed coaching football and baseball in Dearborn Heights School District #7. He also loved bowling, playing cards, hunting, fishing, and going to gun shows, casinos, and garage and estate sales.
Rye had a love for animals and always had a dog. His most recent dog, Toby, passed away in September before his death.
When Rye started to feel sick, he spoke to his doctor and thought he had sinusitis. His health then deteriorated rapidly. He lost strength and appetite, became fatigued and had difficulty breathing before being transported to the hospital by EMS. He tested positive for COVID-19 and was put on a ventilator, but died less than a week later.
Coleman praised a nurse at the hospital for keeping the family informed of his condition as he was not allowed to have visitors.
A family memorial was held for Rye in August.
Rye is survived by his children, Kim (Jerry) Jantzen, Renee (Jay) Dallaire, Kenny (Dawn) Rye, Steve (Kelly) Rye and Abbey (Chris) Coleman; grandchildren Connor Coleman, Megan Coleman, Daniel Rye, Shaun Dallaire, Ashley Dallaire, Paul (Kara) Jantzen, Tim (Heather) Rye, Jacqui (Chris Katip) Jantzen, and Matt Rye; and great-grandchildren Jordyn, Adalyn, and Elias.
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Brendel Hightower is an assistant editor at the Detroit Free Press. Contact her at [email protected]