A Father’s Death—and His Life Lesson That Lives On

Time With Dad

Kenneth Harvey spent nearly every Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday with his son, Kenny, over the last two years.

The two of them were putting the finishing touches on Kenny’s new home.

“He worked with me from sun up to sun down,” Kenny says. “We finally got the job done when we put the last piece of shoe molding down in one of my bathrooms Wednesday night.”

“As dad left our house that day,” Kenny remembers, “he told me we better find something else to do together for the next few years.”

The next day, Kenny’s father was killed.

He’d been working in his yard outside his own home when a passing driver lost control and jumped the curb.

A Good Samaritan

Kenneth Harvey spent his life serving others.

“At his memorial service,” Kenny says, “over a thousand people signed the guest book—many of them were perfect strangers.”

One of those strangers found Kenny because she had a story to share.

“She told me dad had been mowing her grass ever since her husband passed away,” Kenny says.

Kenneth Harvey had been crisscrossing his south Georgia community for years, mowing yards, grilling food at fundraisers, cleaning up after storms, donating his time, and, as he said, “doing one small act of kindness” for countless friends and strangers.

The local newspaper once recognized him as a “Good Samaritan” whose “Good deeds don’t go unnoticed.”

The ‘Army Man’ Lesson

Kenny Harvey, a Pearson Digital Learning Consultant in Savannah, says his dad never overlooked his own family.

“He and mom watched over my daughter during the work day, sometimes five days a week,” Kenny says.

Poppey and granddaughter Ardyn.

His generous ways rubbed off on Kenny’s daughter, who called her grandfather “Poppey.”

“When my daughter started earning six dollars for doing chores around the house,” Kenny says, “she wanted to go straight to the mall— it was enough to ride the carousel twice.”

“One time, when were at a grocery in a different mall, my daughter kept asking me about her carousel money,” he says.

Kenny says he finally understood what was happening.

“She was looking for the ‘Army Man’ of the Salvation Army with the red bucket,” Kenny says.

“She said Poppey had told her that half her money was good for one carousel ride—and the other half could help some other kids,” he said. “So, I gave her the money, and she dropped in the man’s red pot.”

Kenny’s daughter was four years old.

Still Working After Retirement

Kenneth Harvey worked a desk job as a Probation Officer at the Georgia Department of Corrections for years.

“Even then, he couldn’t wait to get off work and do stuff to help people,” Kenny says.

“Once he retired, he went out and bought a commercial-grade, zero turn riding mower,” he says. “The thing could go 21 miles per hour, had huge, 10-inch wheels, and a 60-inch cutting width.”

Kenneth would tow that mower around town and cut yards for people he thought it could help.

He also bought a massive grill to pull behind his truck—and was a staple in the food tents at local events.

Kenneth Harvey never charged for his work.

“One of the local landscapers used to joke with him that he need to quit cutting so many yards,” Kenny says. “The man said he couldn’t compete with free.”

“I’d used a tiny ‘Forest Gump’ mower in my parent’s yard all through high school,” Kenny says.

“It took me three hours to cut that acre and a half,” he says. “Once dad got that super mower, he could knock it out in 20 minutes.”

“Dad talked about throwing a rock into a pond,” Kenny says. “No matter the size of that rock, its splash would send ripples across the entire span of water. He told us one act of kindness is like that ripple.”

Ripples in a Pond

Kenny says it’s tough to pin down where his dad’s generosity came from.

“His dad passed away when he and his twin brother were four months old,” Kenny says. “So he was raised by his three uncles.”

“Uncle Odis was super handy,” Kenny says. “Uncle Will had a kind, generous heart—and Uncle Clifford was always so positive.”

Kenny says his dad was always a mold of these three men.

And he says his father eventually explained his approach to life to his own children.

“Dad talked about throwing a rock into a pond,” Kenny says. “No matter the size of that rock, its splash would send ripples across the entire span of water.”

“He told us one act of kindness is like that ripple,” Kenny says. “and encouraged us to try and do something like that every day—to make the world a better place.”

Kenneth Harvey, celebrated by his local newspaper the Claxton Enterprise.

Dad As Compass

“Dad was my baseball coach,” Kenny says. “We hunted together, we fished miles and miles offshore, and did many home improvement projects around both of our homes over the years.”

“He was a superman to everybody, to family, friends, his church, strangers, and the community,” he says.

In tribute, Kenny has been thinking about an image of a compass on his dad’s gravestone.

Kenny and his sister were going through thousands of family photos after their father’s death.

He and his sister noticed how “Dad never had presents for himself at Christmas.”

“I guess that was his only flaw,” Kenny says. “He helped other so much, he always overlooked himself.”

Honoring a Father

Kenny says he and his family have been surrounded by friends and colleagues after his father’s death.

In his honor, they’ve decided to ask their friends and colleagues for something in return.

“Dad would love it if people anywhere did one act of kindness over the next few weeks,” Kenny says.

They’re suggesting people post a short description of their small act of kindness on social media with the hashtag #kennethharvey.

“During his father’s eulogy, Kenny encouraged everyone to conduct one small act of kindness. No matter how big or small the act, he asked everyone to make someone else’s day more enjoyable or at least easier to manage. I am touched by this wonderful tribute, and I am spreading the word.”

Kevin Capitani, President of Pearson North America—in a note to colleagues.

“We don’t want people to feel like this is something they have to do,” Kenny says.

“We also hope it doesn’t look like bragging,” he says, “We think it will help our mom—and show her that dad’s life goes on.”

Kenny says they’re all still picking up the pieces of their lives since his father’s death.

“I’ve got huge shoes to fill,” he says.