Utah cowboy poet remembered as man of faith

Tuesday , January 06, 2015 - 4:03 PM

FARR WEST — Donald “Don” Kennington may have been best known as a performer and cowboy poet to those who followed his talent that took him all over the Intermountain West, but to his family, he was known as a man of faith.

His lifelong efforts to “take his rough edges and become a polished stone” were the theme family members shared at his funeral Tuesday.

Attended by a packed house that extended back into a gymnasium at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Westwood Ward, the family told of a man who made everyone his favorite and who always said goodbye with a phrase about how beautiful or handsome they were.

“Grandpa had a way of always making you feel good. He put a smile on your face like a grandpa should,” read daughter Kayleen Anderson. The words were written by Kennington’s granddaughter as his death was imminent.

“Words so simple, sweet and true. Grandpa, you’re handsome and I love you,” the poem ended.

Anderson spoke of growing up in the “Kennington Commune,” where kids from throughout the neighborhood gathered.

“Not only did our parents teach us, they taught anyone who would listen,” she said.

Several of the talks focused on family home evenings and Kennington’s favorite scriptures.

Daughter Karlene Hall spoke of her father's good and careful work ethics.

“He taught me to work hard and to have a good attitude even if you didn’t love what you were doing,” she said.

But Hall said her dad was strict in how he treated others with respect.

“He always taught that you don't make yourself any taller by stepping on others,” she said.

And it was his ability to step down, into his personal prayers that son Kory Kennington spoke about.

“I remember seeing Dad on his knees, seeing him say his prayers,” he said. “That spoke volumes to me.”

The son said whenever anyone would leave the house, father Kennington would tell them to remember who they were.

“He said, 'You represent the Kennington name in how you conduct yourself.’ ”

And daughter Kristine Johnson said her dad always conducted himself in the best manner possible.

She said he served the LDS Church as a young men's president, a Sunday School president, in the bishopric and as a stake missionary.

Johnson said many former Sunday School students returned to thank her dad for making them feel special.

“When you make people feel good, it gives you a warm feeling inside you can't get any other way,” she recalls her dad saying to her.

“He just didn’t know what a difference he was making, but we do,” she said.

Several cowboy poems Kennington wrote were part of the service.

One was about Kennington’s favorite ambition, horseshoeing, and ended with a farrier driving a final nail.

“There now. That’s a little better,” read the poem read by son Kendell Kennington.

“That pony's ready for the trail.

But I won't be coming back.

’Cause I’ve just driven my final nail.”

Another favorite poem was shared by son Keeth Kennington.

The poem was about a man who lived in a line shack, a lonely dwelling where one man often would live for months by himself far out onto a property near where animals grazed.

The poem ended with these words:

“When I die and go beyond,

When life comes to its end.

Please let me ride with a man like him,

Cuz I’d like him for a friend.” 

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at JaNaeFrancisSE. Like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis. 

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