Kenneth was born at Memorial Hospital in Johnson City on May 20, 1947 and was a lifelong resident of Johnson City. Profoundly deaf from an early age, Kenneth was enrolled at the age of 5 in the East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Speech and Hearing program where he was fitted with his first hearing aids and learned to read lips. Despite his challenges navigating the hearing world, Kenneth loved learning and excelled in school, graduating from Jonesborough High School in 1965. He received a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from ETSU in 1969, a master’s degree in Mathematics from ETSU in 1972, and a second master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee in 1976. He later pursued a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Missouri, Rolla.
Kenneth’s love of learning extended way beyond the classroom. He was a voracious reader and found incredible joy roaming the shelves of bookstores. Zimmerman’s Books in Johnson City was his favorite bookstore and he visited every Sunday until it closed. Kenneth was almost always found reading a book or a magazine unless he was on vacation with his family, during which time he would set down his usual mystery novel to comb through the new city’s yellow pages. These yellow pages served as his guide to that city’s photography stores, woodworking shops, and art museums. Some of his happiest times occurred while he was photographing wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains while hiking with his wife, Barbara; working with his brother, Gary, on a woodworking project; or visiting a museum with his child, Stephen.
Kenneth shared his love of learning with Stephen, as well as many students he taught in Computer Science and Mathematics at ETSU and other schools. When he wasn’t teaching, he worked in various computer departments, including Nuclear Fuels, Holston Valley Hospital, PET Dairy, Electrolux and others.
Kenneth was an avid sports fan and loved the ETSU Buccaneers and, later in life, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. He loved country ham, making breakfast including chipped beef or sausage gravy on weekend mornings, and cooking out hamburgers and hotdogs for his whole family.
Kenneth had a big heart and clarity about the inherent worth of all people. After voting for Richard Nixon in his first presidential election in 1968, Kenneth quickly realized the error of his ways and from that time forward proudly identified as a “lifelong” Democrat. In parenting Stephen, he offered experiences to learn about people, cultures, and places outside of his lifelong home, pointing out injustices based on race, class, religion, sexuality and other categories wherever he saw them.
Kenneth was preceded in death by his parents, William “Jack” and Billie Jean Wiseman; grandparents, William “Milt” and Lizzie “Suzie” Wiseman and James “Jim” and Kate Briggs; and his brother and best friend, Gary Lee Wiseman.
Kenneth is survived by his wife, Barbara Smith Wiseman; his only child, Stephen William Wiseman and daughter-in-law, Heather Branham; his sister, Dianne McMichael and her husband, Gary; his sister, Debbie Arnold; his sister-in-law, Gail Wiseman; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
The family of Kenneth Wiseman will receive friends from 1:00pm until 3:00pm Saturday, August 17th at Morris-Baker Funeral Home. A private family memorial service will be held at a later date.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Wilson-Hartsell Scholarship Endowment, Department of Mathematics, East Tennessee State University, 312 Gilbreath Hall, PO Box 70663, Johnson City, TN 37614.
Memories and condolences may be shared via www.morrisbaker.com.
Morris-Baker Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 2001 E. Oakland Avenue, Johnson City is serving the family. (423) 282-1521