Irven Thomas Kuykendall disappeared three and a half years ago at the age of 79. In spite of his age he had a LinkedIn, and the details of his accomplishments, as told by Kuykendall himself, are touching:
When I went into the ophans home, 1-3-1942, I wasn’t made to go to school.. I had rather helped with the care of the livestock, cows, horses, mules, hogs goats, chickens. All except the horses and mules, were slaughted for food. Left there in 1-31-1953. Went into the Army. In those years, a person only had to be in excellent [health] and make a score of 31 on the entrance test. Today, a person has to be in excellent health and a high school graduate. I stayed in the Militery, intil 12-8-61. In 1986, while I was a patient at the V A Hospital, I took the test for GED and passed it on 2nd try.
R.I.P. Irven, wherever you are.
[EDIT: Kuykendall was also active on Ancestry’s message boards.]
He sounded like an interesting and intelligent guy who overcame a lot of hardship. My dad grew up during the Depression and was a Korean vet as well. In that era, despite the risks, military enlistment tended to be the best option for improving one’s life and having a chance to travel when one was from a poor background (and it’s terrible that economic mobility in the U.S. hasn’t progressed the way that it should have. Too many still have a “let them use bootstraps” mentality towards the poor).
Sonny was a very friendly person. I am his 2nd cousin/once removed. We both did genealogy on our mutual ancestors which is how Sonny found me. He drove all over the country looking for descendants or distant relations making a connection. By the 90’s I had moved out of the country and we lost contact. He was in and out of VA but didn’t much like talking about himself. Preferred the old family stories handed down. I believe I last heard about him when he was in VA in Arkansas. I didn’t realize he was missing until recently. He would get on the road and travel at a moment’s notice, mostly by motorcycle when he was younger. Never met a stranger. I think you may have joined your ancestors, Sonny, and I know you’re having a blast!!! Miss you.