In Memoriam

John Kenny '37

John Kenny '37, a yell leader at Saint Mary's during the glory days of football under Slip Madigan, died on Dec. 12, 2009, in Great Falls, Mont. He was 96.

Mr. Kenny, the son of Irish immigrants who was born in the small mining town of Anaconda, Mont., started at Saint Mary's in 1931, but had to interrupt his education for two years to make enough money to finish college during the Great Depression, says his son, Rob Kenny, who attended Saint Mary's during the 1960s. Mr. Kenny also worked as a waiter and janitor in Dante Hall for three years to afford tuition.

In an autobiography, Mr. Kenny wrote that he was "one small, lonely country boy" who soon learned that most of the students, especially the football players, came from poor or moderate-income families.

"The philosophy and values of a Catholic education as exemplified and taught by the Brothers has been a big part of my life," Mr. Kenny concluded. "I am sure that many young men from poor surroundings have the same sentiments."

His son said his father passed along that love of Saint Mary's to his children, frequently telling stories of his college years.

"His closest attachment was to Saint Mary's," Rob Kenny says. "For him, Saint Mary's was the formation of his adult life and his character."

Mr. Kenny's fondest recollection was of his senior year, when he was the head yell leader and stowed away on the special train that Madigan had arranged to transport the Gael football team to play against Fordham in New York. His friends Hugh Sill '37 (later his best man) and Marty Kordick '37 persuaded Madigan not to kick Mr. Kenny off the train by raising money for his fare.

Rob Kenny said his father ended up staying with Brother Albert in the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

After graduating, Mr. Kenny worked for the Great American Insurance Company in San Francisco, served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1946, and returned to work for the insurance company. He retired in 1975, then served in the Montana Legislature for two years.

Mr. Kenny is survived by his son Rob and daughters Carolyn Wittman and Marcia Solberg, along with their spouses, four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and many other relatives. He was preceded in death by his wife of 54 years, Edna Marie Kenny.

His family requested that anyone wishing to do so could make a contribution in his name to the Saint Mary's College Annual Fund.

–Erin Hallissy


  • Brother Virgil Evers '48
  • Brother Raphael-Philip Thez '59


  • Hubert Ohman Bower Sr. '54
  • Robert A. Craft '79
  • Delett Paul '68
  • Laurence Ervin '57
  • Jumoke Horton '97
  • Stephen Thomas Laird '76
  • Pamela M. LeMasters EE '97
  • Marjorie A. Mahoney ECR
  • Lt. Col. Robert M. Millhauser EE '80
  • William Phagan '79
  • Philip Quittman '36
  • William J. Stephens '34
  • Dave Swanson '68
  • John Viera '68

Family and Friends

  • Teresa A. Brusher
  • Kenneth H. Cardwell, father of Brother Kenneth Cardwell '71
  • Robert W. Carrau
  • Francis J. Charlton, Sr.
  • Douglas Kalani Chun,
  • brother of Jaylynn Chun '81
  • and Lezleeann Chun '79
  • Colby A. Cogswell
  • Roy E. Disney, father of Roy P. Disney '79
  • Teresa Dostal
  • Antonia Flores
  • Margaret Holbrook
  • Virginia A. McFarland
  • Richard Norton, father of Steven Norton '04
  • Margaret Tuleen, mother of Janet Holbrook '85
  • Mary Zile, mother of Renee Zile '97 and John Zile '98, mother-in-law of Jaime Zile '98