Kenneth Earl “Kenny” James, 55, passed away peacefully in his sleep with his family by his side, the morning of Wednesday, August 29, 2018, at Mercy Hospice in Johnston, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. He will forever be bonded with his youngest grandson who turned one on the day of his death.


Ken was born on July 9, 1963 at Des Moines General Hospital in Des Moines to Nanci Rhinehart and Myron Dean James. Ken was the youngest of six boys. He attended Dallas Center-Grimes Schools and moved to Arizona, with the love of his life, Venea Spencer. They moved back to Iowa in 1989, a year after their daughter, Heather was born.


Ken was a mechanic for all of his working life. Customers even followed him as he progressed in his career. He started working at his step-father, Carl Laughman’s, DX gas station in Dallas Center pumping gas after school. In Arizona he worked at Fred’s Refrigeration, Goodyear in Adel, Heartland Car Care Center in Dallas Center, Spry Automotive in Waukee, and 15 years as shop foreman at Deaton Truck and Auto in Waukee and Dallas Center.


Ken lived in Dallas Center most of his life, always seeming to gravitate back. Even when away from the shop, Ken was always willing to help; whether diagnosing a car over the phone or inspecting a car for a friend before they bought it. He was very proud of the fact that he had taught his daughter the basics of taking care of her car. Ken also participated in holding workshops for the local 4-H club, teaching club members how to care for their cars.


Ken enjoyed racing, camping, fishing, hiking, RC racing, shooting, and was a member of the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Squires. He loved watching his grandchildren learn and grow while building memories together.


Ken leaves behind his wife of 37 years, Venea Spencer, daughter, Heather (Mark) Meendering of Norwalk, three grandchildren, Faith, Shawn, and Walker Meendering; three brothers, Mike (Anita) of Angleton, TX, Bill (Deb) James and Andrew (Kim) James, both of Adel; half-sister, Diana Burzlaff of Des Moines. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Doug and Daniel James.


Memorial Services will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, September 7, at Iles-Brandt Chapel in Dallas Center, where friends and family are encouraged to bring their best or classic car. A Celebration of Life (Whiskey Friday) at 6 p.m. at Deaton Truck and Auto, Inc, 2521 - 240th St. Dallas Center, where friends and family will share a meal and stories. An informal graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Brethren Cemetery east of Dallas Center. Arrangements by Iles-Brandt Dallas Center Chapel.