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Published: Tuesday, 7/6/2004

Executive was wed 49 years

James Edward Kenney, 78, a retired local business executive who fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, died Friday in Toledo Hospital.

Mr. Kenney, a lifelong Toledo resident, died of pulmonary fibrosis, his son, Kevin, said. He had been in the hospital for two weeks before his death.

After graduating the University of Toledo in 1950, Mr. Kenney went to work for a local advertising agency that had the Willys Overland Co. account, his son said. That led to his later employment as the advertising manager for Willys Motors, Inc.

In the mid-1960s, he left to become controller at Gerity-Schultz Corp., a die-casting company, from which he retired in 1989.

The younger Mr. Kenney said his father was "pretty simple, pretty straightforward," and a consummate family man, devoted to his wife and six children. He began dating Alma Murtagh on a fix-up arranged by his friend, her brother, and they married July 31, 1954.

Mr. Kenney realized he probably wasn't going to survive to their 50th wedding anniversary, his son said, but he was grateful for the 49-plus years the couple had together. "The night before he died, they toasted each other," Kevin Kenney said.

Mr. Kenney got his draft notice in April, 1944, near the end of his senior year at Central Catholic High School. By Christmas, he was on a troop ship headed for Europe and his assignment with the Second Infantry Division, with which he served until the German surrender the following May. He was receiving jungle-warfare training for a transfer to Asia when the war with Japan ended three months later.

The younger Mr. Kenney said his father spoke little of his wartime experience until much later, when his grandchildren coaxed it out of him. "He saw a lot of people die," his son said.

Mr. Kenney grew up hunting with high school friends for pheasant in woods and fields near what today is the Westgate area, his son said. As an adult, he hunted geese and ducks in the marshes of Ottawa County.

Along with his wife, the former Alma Murtagh, his survivors include his sons, Kevin, Brian, Michael, Patrick, and Dan; daughter, Colleen Vedra; sister, Gertrude Kenney Streicher, and 23 grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. today in St. Joseph Catholic Church, Sylvania, preceded at 9:30 a.m. by prayers in the Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania.

The family suggests tributes to St. Francis de Sales High School or the Little Sisters of the Poor.



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