Longtime aviation, skating figure dies

Kenneth Duncan "Kenny" Isely grew up around airplanes.

Eventually, he worked for the historic Swallow Airplane Manufacturing Co., Boeing, Beech and Rawdon Aircraft.

He also was well-known in Wichita's ice skating community, where he performed in, coached and organized Wichita figure-skating competition and shows.

Mr. Isely died Sunday. He was 93.

His involvement with aircraft came at an early age, said friend and former neighbor Richard Harris.

At 13, he began working at Swallow Airplane Co., Wichita's first airplane manufacturer, washing planes.

He later worked as a machinist and in engineering for Swallow, where he built biplanes. He eventually learned to fly an Eaglerock biplane.

During World War II, he reviewed aircraft designs at Beech, Harris said. After a stint in the Navy, where he worked as a machinist on seaplanes in San Diego during World War II, he returned to Beech.

Mr. Isely's love was figure skating. He became a professional skater in 1951 and built a practice rink in his backyard.

During the 1970s, using a portable ice skating rink he invented, Mr. Isely produced figure-skating events at the Epic Center, Wichita Art Museum, Towne East Square and other venues in the city and state, Harris said.

Mr. Isely helped develop judging rules for the U.S. Figure Skating Association and was one of its oldest members, Harris said.

"He was a man who was just constantly concerned about how to be productive and creative with every minute of his day," Harris said. "Even at 90 plus, he was still running and skating and coaching."

He was a musician, painter, sculptor and amateur astronomer, building his own telescopes. Mr. Isely holds 13 patents on skates, Harris said.

He also wrote books and produced educational movies on skating, science, aviation and local history.

A graveside service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Maple Grove Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Wichita Figure Skating Club.