Saturday, May 19, 2018

10 - 11 AM

Falcon Heights U.C.C.

1795 Holton St., Falcon Heights

Memorial Service

Saturday, May 19, 2018

11:00 AM

Falcon Heights U.C.C.

1795 Holton St., Falcon Heights

Vernon W. Kenney

April 4, 1930 - March 31, 2018

Age 87, of Roseville. 

Died March 31, 2018, in Palm Springs, CA.


Vern was curious man—a kind and gentle soul who delighted in figuring out how the world worked. His curiosity served him well in education, work, and leisure. He was rarely, if ever, bored. His ability to savor the great joys of his life—music, travel, food, and most of all, family—had a wonderful way of rubbing off on others. It was impossible to remain grumpy in his presence.


Vern was born April 4, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois, to Mahlon and Olive Kenney. By all accounts, he was a good boy who rarely troubled his parents. Olive insisted he never cried—not once. As a teenager, Vern achieved Eagle Scout rank and attended the first post-war Boy Scout World Jamboree in Paris. The experience ignited a lifelong love of that city. Vern went on to earn a BS in chemical engineering from MIT. After serving stateside as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he finished his Masters degree at MIT and eventually earned an MBA from Rutgers.


In 1957, while working for Esso in New Jersey, Vern met and fell in love with a young nurse from Minnesota named Gail Johnson. Three weeks after meeting her, he asked her to marry him. Against her better judgment, she agreed. Their love affair lasted sixty years.

In 1959, Vern landed a job at 3M, and he and Gail moved to the Twin Cities. Vern spent the rest of his career at 3M, working in a variety of management positions and developing specialized skills in everything from mechanical plating to commercial graphics. Among the highlights of his career was a two-year assignment with 3M’s photographic division on the Italian Riviera.


Vern and Gail had three children: Dave, Kris, and Jan. All three flourished in their father’s nurturing light. They saw in him many of the qualities they hoped to emulate in their own lives, especially his kindness, patience, and good humor. They were proud of him. He was proud of them. They loved each other without bounds. That shared love extended to the kids’ spouses, Nancy, Zoe, and Glenn, and to eight grandchildren: Allison, Paul, Helen, Charlie, Hillary, Ben, Grace, and Birk. Vern’s bonds with all of them were real and enduring.

Vern loved opera and cultivated a decades-long obsession with the Swedish tenor Jussi Bjorling. In retirement, he devoted countless hours to the Norske Torske Klubben of St. Paul, the YMCA’s Y’s Men International, and Meals on Wheels.


A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 19, at Falcon Heights United Church of Christ, 1795 Holton St., Falcon Heights. Visitation at the church from 10-11 AM Saturday. All are invited to join the family at a church reception immediately following the service and at a celebration of Vern’s life held shortly thereafter in nearby Roseville. (Maps will be provided.) If you care to share a memorial, the family asks you make a donation to cause of your choice. That would make Vern smile.

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