Kenny was Portadown through and through

Kenny Best
Kenny Best

One of Portadown’s best-known residents Mr Kenneth (Kenny) Best died recently after a short illness.

Kenny (78) passed away in the ICU of Craigavon Area Hospital following major surgery – his system proved too weak to sustain the trauma of the vital operation.

He is survived by sons Campbell (wife Gail) and Tyrone, as well as brother-in-law Jim and sister-in-law Dorothy. Campbell is a youth worker with the Portadown Elim Church, and Tyrone is a senior social worker in the Glencraig organisation near Holywood, for adults with learning disability.

Kenny also leaves close and cherished family friends Ann Hayes and Elizabeth McMullen, and was predeceased by wife Maureen 12 years ago. His home was at Fitzroy Street, Portadown.

Kenny Best was Portadown through-and-through. Over the past number of years, he called in the town centre virtually every weekday, enjoying a cuppa in Number Ten in West Street or the Faith Mission Christian Book Shop in Magowan Buildings (sometimes both!) He traded exclusively in locally-owned shops, and will be especially missed in the West Street-Edgarstown area.

He was born in the former Carleton Home (now Carleton House apartments) in Church Street, and lived in Montague Street (long since demolished), after which the family moved to Union Street in 1970. He was educated at the Hart Memorial and Church Street Primary Schools.

He spent 35 years of his working life at Denny’s in Obins Street, when it employed up to 300 and processed pigs and produced the full range of pork products. After that, he moved to Moy Park, and plumped for early retirement at the age of 52, due to ill health.

His future wife Maureen lived at Festival Road in the Killicomaine estate and they met when she was visiting relatives in Edgarstown. He used to leave her to the bus stop and she caught the ‘borough bus’ home.

They were married at her home church, Killicomaine Baptist, on June 18, 1958, and initially settled in Festival Road – then in Churchill Park in the days before the town became segregated. After that they moved back to his beloved Edgarstown and Fitzroy Street.

Kenny was a keen ‘pigeon man’, being a member of Edgarstown Homing Pigeon Society (HPS), where his friends and fellow members included Eric and Simon Buckley, John Parr and Jason Williamson. He showed his birds in the local clubhouse and sent them to races to places like Arklow in the Republic, Haverford West in Wales and Penzance in Cornwall.

Kenny was also a keen football fan, following the fortunes of Portadown and also Leeds United – especially at their peak. He also played skittles during his Denny days. And he indulged in a spot of amateur boxing in a club in the Tunnel area, along with his great friend Frank McCoy and other young pugilists.

He and Maureen attended Portadown Elim Church, where his service of thanksgiving was held. Pastor Ross McBride conducted the service and Pastor Stuart Argue paid a tribute and sang a solo.

Burial was at Kernan Cemetery and donations in lieu of flowers are to –The Y-Zone Drop-in Centre, c/o George McNabb Funeral Directors, Bridge Street, Portadown.