Eugene J. Kenney, 84

Eugene J. Kenney, 84, of West Bend, was called home to go fishing with St. Peter on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the town of Polk. Gene was born on July 7, 1929, on the family farm in Medford to the late Florence and Alvina (nee Hefter) Kenney. He graduated from Medford High School in 1948 and later went on to serve in the United States Army. Gene was united in marriage to Delores Tilch on April 28, 1956, at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in the town of Greenwood.

He was employed by Cutler Hammer for 25 years spending the first 23 years in Milwaukee and the following two years in North Carolina. Wanting to return to the Midwest, Gene left Cutler Hammer and began working for the West Bend Company where he was a foreman for 17 years until his retirement in June of 1991.

It wasn’t until his retirement that Gene really began his life’s work — doing those things he truly loved to do. He volunteered for Meals on Wheels, the Lac Lawrann Conservancy and the Farmington Historical Society, serving as a board member for several years. With a passion for history and family, he dedicated 10 years to researching his genealogy, compiling volumes of research on his own family and helping others find their ancestors, making close friends across the country, many of whom he never met.

In his 80s, he achieved what may be his greatest accomplishment: He lovingly restored Orchard Grove Cemetery in Farmington, digging up and returning long-buried headstones to their rightful place, piecing together the broken ones, lifting some heavier than his own weight back into place, and, most important to Gene, getting to know those whose resting places he cared for and whom he came to respect and treasure, telling their stories for future generations. Gene was a member of St. Mary’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in West Bend. In his free time, Gene loved fishing, woodworking, and gardening. He was known as the “Scrabble King” gleefully defeating his opponents. He was an avid reader and religiously worked the daily crossword puzzle, reflecting his sharp mind and love of language.

Gene is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Delores; his five children, Colleen (Roger) Price of Selma, N.C., Laurel Kenney-Schellinger (Tim Schellinger) of Appleton, John (Lori) Kenney of Grafton, Karen Kenney-Lassiter (Andy Lassiter) of Four Oaks, N.C., and Jeannine Kenney (John Zim) of Philadelphia; 11 grandchildren, Vicki, Megan, Brandon, Sarah, Matthew, Eli, Morgan, Caitlyn, Sam, Madeline and Luke; two great-grandchildren, Haley and Hannah; a sister, Eileen LaRoche of Wausau; a brother, James (Eileen) Kenney of Medford; a sister in-law, Mildred Nelson of Medford; and many other close relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Florence and Alvina; his two brothers, Wilmer Kenney and Roy (Marie) Kenney; his brother in-law, Leonard LaRoche; and his son-in-law, Larry Brown.

A Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, March 8, 2014, at noon at St. Mary’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (1610 Monroe St. West Bend). Visitation will be at the church on Saturday from 10 a.m. until the time of service at noon. Burial of Gene’s cremated remains will be in Evergreen Cemetery in Medford.

In lieu of flowers, memorials to St. Mary’s School or to the charity of your choice would be greatly appreciated by the family.

Myrhum - Patten Funeral & Cremation Service of West Bend is serving the family.

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