Cover photo for James Kenneth Farmer's Obituary
James Kenneth Farmer Profile Photo

James Kenneth Farmer

January 17, 1943 — March 14, 2024


James Kenneth Farmer

James “Kenneth” Farmer, 81, of the Cruso community, entered his Heavenly Home on Thursday, March 14, 2024, while surrounded by love.  Kenneth was born on January 17, 1943 to the late Marion Samuel and Effie Mae Frizzell Farmer.  He was a native and lifelong resident of Haywood County and a graduate of Bethel High School.

Kenneth started his journey after graduation by enlisting in the United States Army.  He was a combat veteran and served honorably from 1966-1969.  He achieved the rank of Sergeant before he finished his commitment to the Army.  He served a tour in Vietnam for 12 months, serving as a Field Artillery Crewman, operating howitzers with his unit, Company A, 4th Battalion 1st Infantry, 3rd Brigade.  He was a proud American.  During his service, he was awarded the National Defense Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two campaign stars, and two overseas service bars respectively, as well as many accommodations, citations, and awards for his military service.  

After his military career, Kenneth came back home to Canton and worked at Champion International as a foreman on 19 machine for almost 30 years before retiring.  In his spare time, Kenneth loved spending time with his friends and family, especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.   He was an avid outdoorsman who loved to bear and deer hunt, as well as fish.  His most precious memories made with his friends and family almost always involved a fishing pole or a trip to the woods.  He valued teaching the younger generations his secret tips and tricks, whether it be how to properly bait and cast in his favorite fishing spots, or how to find your way off of a mountain by using nothing other than wind direction and the tree tops.  He was also an active member of Pisgah Freewill Baptist Church.  He was a kind and gentle soul who never met a stranger.  He had a special gift for seeing the brighter side of life even on tough days.  He was rarely ever seen without a warm and welcoming smile on his fact accompanied by a big hug or handshake to make you feel special to him.  He opened his doors to anyone in need, and would have given the shirt off his back along with a fresh cup of coffee, and a bit of wise guidance before you left.  He proudly played the role of a Father and Papaw to many individuals in his community.   He loved watching his children and grandchildren at sporting events and they always could count on seeing him in the stands or near the concessions cheering them on as their biggest supporter.

In addition to his parents, Kenneth was preceded in death by his wife, Gail Hall Farmer, who passed away in 1987; a daughter, Kim Farmer Burnette; infant son, Kenneth Dale Farmer; four sisters; one brother; his nephew and “Lake Buddy”, Michael Stockton; along with numerous cousins.

He is survived by his daughter, Kendra Farmer Smathers (Tim) of Canton, who was the apple of her fathers eye, he was her true hero; one sister, Marie Heatherly, of Candler; four grandchildren, Taylor Henson, Colt Smathers, Robyn Burnette, and Ryan Burnette; three great-grandchildren, Kenley, Hunter, and Hannalee; a special nephew and niece, Jeff Farmer and Donna Farmer, whom he thought of as his own children; along with numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and many close friends.

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, March 19, 2024.  The family will receive friends from 12 pm until 2 pm at Wells Funeral Home in Canton.  Following receiving friends, the Funeral Service will be held in the Canton Chapel of Wells Funeral Home with Pastors Jeremy and Neill Cagle officiating.   Burial will be at the Bethel Community Cemetery with full military honors.  Serving as pallbearers are Jeff Farmer, Colt Smathers, Raymond Sutton, Les Griffin, Shane Riddle, Michael Leatherwood, Chris Stockton, Conner Leatherwood, and Joe Gregory as honorary.

The family will gather for a meal after the burial at the daughter’s residence.

Donations can me made to the Charles George VA Hospital, 1100 Tunnel Road, Asheville, NC   28805.  

The care of Mr. Farmer has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Home of Canton and an online memorial register is available at "Obituaries" at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Kenneth Farmer, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

12:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Wells Funeral Home - Canton

3715 Asheville Highway, Canton, NC 28716

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Canton Chapel of Wells Funeral Home

3715 Asheville Hwy, Canton, NC 28716

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Bethel Community Cemetery

5868 Pigeon Rd, Canton, NC 28716

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