Kenneth Devon Mayberry's impact on the lives of those he loved was anything but ordinary, so it's only befitting his final story be told in a non-traditional way as well. On June 24, 1973 Lorraine Mayberry, a young single mother just shy of her 19th birthday went into labor at Dyersburg General Hospital in Dyersburg, TN. She was expecting to give birth to one child but God had a different plan.
Kenneth was born one minute before his twin brother Keith Lavon giving him bragging rights of being the oldest. Their unique bond grew stronger as they got older, each "sensing" when the other wasn't quite right. His infant years were spent in the neighboring small town of Newbern providing a "village of support". When he was approx. 2 years old his mother made the difficult decision to move to Detroit, MI where her mother resided to continue her education and provide a better life for her sons.
With a smile that would light up a room and an infectious laugh, Kenneth's early childhood was filled with faith, large family gatherings, lots of food and tons of fun. It's no wonder these values would shape the man he'd later become. He enjoyed cub scouts with his mom serving as their den mother along with a host of family traditions such as Sunday dinner after church, homemade Easter baskets along with a new suit for the occasion, and going to the state fair every fall. One of his favorite childhood memories were from Christmas. They started with him and his brothers that now included baby brother Jumaane Jibri decorating the live tree, lots of wrapped presents underneath without name tags, visiting the winter wonderland display downtown and new PJ's for Christmas Eve night. When his grandparents Wytch and Frankie Stubberfield, moved back to Jackson, MS little did Kenneth know just how much of a positive impact it would have on his life. That's where he'd spend several summers waking up at dawn to beat the hot sun to work in the garden with his grandfather affectionately known as "Uncle Swampy". But he did much more than pick peas, he learned the value of hard work and life lessons that would carry him through tough times to come. It was during one of these summers that he gave his life to Christ and was baptized at what is now Hanging Moss Church of Christ.
When he returned home his spiritual growth continued at the Lemay Church of Christ under then minister, Earl Crocker whom he would later call his "father in the gospel". This is where he discovered his love of congregational singing, something he continued throughout his life. Youth leader Odell Tate, Jr. took him under his wings teaching him how to control his powerful voice. He regularly led singing during worship services and participated in youth conferences throughout the region. Kenneth developed a strong relationship with his father, Gordon Smith or "Fred" as he called him during his later teen years. It was one summer spent with his paternal family in California that his dad taught him to drive a stick shift – something no one else was brave enough to do!
He shared as many special moments and significant events as possible with his sisters Felicia, Sonya, Michelle and their children over the years despite the distance created by his career.
Kenneth's love of the military began in Detroit's Murray Wright High School when he participated in the Navy ROTC program all four years. It was no surprise when he enlisted in the United States Navy immediately after graduation. His impressive career spanned 20+ years with several international assignments including the Gulf War. It would be impossible to mention all of his accomplishments but a few significant highlights rise to the top. His love of food carried over professionally as the majority of his military time was spent in the culinary field, not just preparing meals but enjoying the fruits of his labor as well. Over the years he progressed in both skill and responsibility eventually becoming responsible for serving senior command and their distinguished guests, which once included then Vice President Dick Cheney. He also attended a special event in New York making an appearance on The Today Show. He fulfilled one of his lifelong goals when he was commissioned "Chief" in 2008. His career continued to flourish in multiple duty stations culminating in Hawaii. This is where he retired from the Navy with honors in 2014 returning to Texas for civilian life and to focus on his family.
Kenneth also took advantage of his military benefits to further his education earning his Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality Management and was in the process of completing his Master's Degree at Southern New Hampshire University. He had a promising career with Hilton Hotels Worldwide until it was derailed by the pandemic so he made the decision to change industries. He'd recently began working at Experian, a multinational consumer credit reporting company.
Of all the titles Ken would wear in his life there's no question the ones he cherished the most were "father and husband". His daughter Tearra Lorraine was the driving concern in most of the major decisions he'd have to make over the course of his life. He probably had no idea when he was making small talk about soup one day in a grocery store that he was speaking to the woman he'd spend the rest of his life with. He and Leonicia "Mercedes" Mayberry were married in 2005 and started family life in OR with their children Tearra and son Jonathan. After settling down a while in TX the family found their spiritual home at the Cornerstone Church of Christ, in McKinney TX. He led songs as usual but also worked diligently on several other ministries and committees, especially if it involved cooking. He remained a faithful member engaged at every opportunity until things shifted virtually last year. If you were fortunate enough to become part of Kenneth's inner circle of friends, you were "family". Such was the case with Antron and Nakia Patton. In addition to sharing their church home the two families were always at each other's houses and even took vacations together. Holidays were especially special when the "clan" would display their love of both cooking and eating with a spread that could feed three times as many people. Kenneth answered his Savior's call on Saturday, February 20, 2021 with his wife and children by his side, and quoting one of his favorite songs, ready to "receive his mansion, robe and crown". Those remaining to cherish his memory are his wife, children, mother, father, brothers, sisters, mother-in-law, grandfather, and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.