Pastors' Memoirs

James Reardon McKenney, 1911 - 1995

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 Mac, as he became known, was born the day after Christmas in 1911, and passed away at the age of 83 on September 2, 1995. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, just a few hours trip by boat up the Chesapeake Bay from Iberius, Virginia, where his family lived in Lancaster County.

  His father owned a general store and pier at the family place in Iberius, located on the eastern branch of the White River which flows into the Rappahannock River, where he served the watermen fishing and oystering the area. His mother was postmaster of Iberius. Mac loved to tell stories of his youth when he rose very early to go out on the oyster boats in freezing weather.

  As a young man, Mac left Lancaster County, as did most of his generation, to find work in Richmond, Virginia. He made good money operating streetcars up and down the Richmond system, and later worked for Nabisco as a route salesman. His calling eventually lead him to begin his ministry career in 1944. He began his studies at Ferrum Methodist School and his ministry in Bath County, Virginia. He went on to serve Selma, and met his wife (Mamie Kidd McKenney) while serving in West Buckingham. They moved to serve Phenix and Hot Springs where their three children, Millie, Jimmy, and Marion were born. Mac continued his education at Lynchburg College.

  From there he went on to serve Pembrook, Pungoteague, Gladys, Halifax Circuit, Boydton, Sussex, Andrew Chapel in Montross, Elkton, St. James-West Augusta, and Dinwiddie where he lost his wife of 32 years to cancer. Along the way, he became very involved in the "Virginia Mental Health Association"; was instrumental in establishing the "Town and Country School for Ministers," sponsored by the Virginia Council of Churches, and served as president of that organization for two years, and became a 32nd Degree Mason.

  Mac retired in 1980 and returned to the city he was so fond of in his youth, Richmond, Virginia. He made friends easily and returned to the ministry as minister at Brookland Church in Henrico County. He got to know his six grandchildren and enjoyed 13 years of independent living in retirement before deciding to relocate to the Essex House in Tappahannock, Virginia. There he lived independently for two years before being diagnosed with inoperable cancer. No longer able to care for himself he moved to the Wausau Health Care Center in Warsaw, Virginia, and departed this life in his sleep. Mac was laid to rest, next to his wife, at Mt. Crawford Cemetery in Mt. Crawford, Virginia.

  He is survived by his son, James R. McKenney of Richmond, Virginia; two daughters, Marion McKenney Taylor of Staunton, Virginia, and Mildred McKenney English of Kinsale, Virginia; six grandchildren: Elizabeth English, L.W. English, Jimie Taylor, Sydney McKenney, Erin Taylor, and Emily McKenney; and two sisters: Marion Abernathy and Louise Evans.

  We will miss my father.

— Jim McKenney



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