Kenneth Wayne Wheat


Kenneth Wayne Wheat (86) left this world to meet his Lord on January 24th, 2023, after years of declining health.

Kenneth (“Kenny”) was born on May 7, 1936, to Kenneth B. and Mabel (Hall) Wheat, and lived in the Carthage area his entire life. He graduated from Carthage Senior High in 1955 and attended Ozark Bible College. On November 12, 1955, he married his sweetheart Elaine Spry and to this union, three children were born.

Kenneth worked hard all his life. He was employed by Flex-O-Lators, Beck Casket Co., MFA Feed, then drove a propane truck for Smallwood Gas Co. until illness forced his retirement. It was important to him that Elaine could be a stay-at-home mother. While working full-time, he also did odd jobs to help make ends meet. He plowed gardens, mowed lawns, painted cars, hauled hay, cut firewood, and did handyman repairs, while Elaine made the girls’ clothes, canned food from the garden, made jelly, and baked something for him every day. Always a farmer at heart, he helped his kids raise all kinds of animals in the backyard, with sheep being some of their favorite pets.

In 1999 he was stricken by a rare disease that left him completely paralyzed. He nearly died but fought back to walk again. Even though he had increasing mobility issues and was losing his sight, he kept up his lawn and home projects and took care of Elaine while she was a dialysis patient for 11 years. In 2016 he again fought back to survive a massive stroke but had to go into nursing care. He loved helping people, and his greatest lament after the stroke was that he “couldn’t do anything for anybody.” He was well known for his sense of humor and loved to joke and tease, even in his last days.


He accepted Christ as a youngster and loved to reminisce about growing up at the Avilla Church of Christ. Gospel music brought him great comfort and his faith in Jesus was the bedrock of his life, which helped him endure many trials. He was a long-time member of the Mr. & Mrs. Sunday School Class at 1st Christian Church in Carthage.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Walter (W.A.) Wheat. Kenneth and Elaine celebrated 61 years of marriage before she passed in 2017. Surviving are their children Kathy Bowers (Darrell), Keith Wheat (Lisa), and Karen Wheat (who was also his devoted caregiver), 5 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Naydene Cunningham (Ivan), many nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends.

Visitation will be at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 28th, followed by the memorial service at 10:00 a.m. Both will be held at Ulmer Funeral Home in Carthage, Missouri.

Memorial contributions may be made to the “Hospital Equipment Fund” at The Bridge (formerly 1st Christian Church) in Carthage or to Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri.

The family would like to acknowledge the extraordinary care given by daughter Karen who spent countless hours by his side, as well as the staff of St. Luke’s Nursing Center for their kindness these last 6 years.