Louis McKenna

Obituary of Louis H. McKenna

1939-2021 Passed on June 14, 2021 He was preceded in death by his mother, Mary Jo McKenna, his father Jim McKenna, and brother Charles “Pat” McKenna. He is survived by the loves of his life, his son Mike (Lauren Gonzales), his daughter Katie (Bill) Horine and his grandson Ben Horine. He is also survived by his former wife Sheri (Mark) Burch, as well as nieces Jen Johnston, Lisa Hahn and Christine Entner, and nephews Mike and Scott Findlay. Lou loved spending time with his friends and family, loved a good story, loved telling jokes, and was quick to laugh. He loved the outdoors, hunting and fishing, politics, and especially chocolate ice cream. When not volunteering or spending time with his grandson, he was planning his hunting trips, counting down the days until grouse season. He had an open heart for those in need and spent his life building relationships with people from all walks of life. Lou grew up in St. Paul, attending St. Mark’s elementary and graduating from St. Thomas Academy. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (emphasis on local government) from the University of Minnesota. Lou considered himself fortunate to work in local government and politics for 30 years. Early in his career, he worked on numerous political campaigns, including Karl Rolvaag’s successful 1962 Gubernatorial bid, and as an advance man on Hubert H. Humphrey’s 1968 Presidential campaign. Shifting from campaign worker to candidate, he won the 1970 campaign for St. Paul City Comptroller, and was the last person to hold that office. Lou made a point to follow Matthew 25:35: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” He was a busy volunteer and loved serving at Dorothy Day for 25 years. He also volunteered at Little Sisters of the Poor for 5 years, making a point to visit with patients who had no local relatives. At another Catholic Charities agency, the Seton Center, he and his wife, having adopted their own children, served by answering questions from unwed mothers. The main question was whether children placed for adoption would be treated as family. They sure were! Lou volunteered for a Ramsey County study committee to see if a food bank was needed in Ramsey County and whether they could afford it. The answers were “yes” and “yes”. He served as a board member and treasurer for the first 15 years of its existence. As a founder of the food bank, he was asked to join the Catholic Charities board and help them interact with the food bank. He considered being involved with the creation of the food bank his most important work, second to raising his children. The food bank was named Second Harvest and is now the largest food bank in MN. He was in charge of the city and county courthouse as coordinator for the United Way annual drive for 10 years. When the courthouse union, AFSME Local 8, won the bargaining rights to have dues checked off, he was next in line to get United Way checked off by the city and county, which meant an increase in giving. He was also a proud member of the AFSCME Local 8 for 20 years. Lou was involved in getting the St. Paul City Council and the Ramsey County Board to adopt policy resolutions that would require them to start hiring women, minorities, and the disabled in significant numbers and positions. As a Ramsey County department head, he hired the first woman and the first person of color to the coveted position of Real Estate Appraiser. Prior to working for Ramsey County, he worked for the City of St. Paul, where he hired the first woman to hold the position of Head of City Council research. In High School, he learned that for $1 that CARE would send 22 lbs of food to starving children in Europe. Later, he became a lifelong doner to CARE. When he read in 2010 that children in Haiti were eating mud pies just to stave off hunger pains, he joined a Baptist mission and went there to see for himself. It was true, and he brought back mud pies to show his friends how real the need there was. He kept an ongoing relationship with Haiti through the American Refuge Committee. On a trip to Mazatlán, he found a makeshift orphanage being run by a Catholic Priest at an abandoned hospital. For 10 years, he donated money and other necessities for the children there, until a local agency took over. When a physician friend told him that the U of M Medical School didn’t have enough cadavers for study and research, he consulted with his children, and then signed up for the Anatomy Bequest Program. He would say, “Put that empty suitcase to work.” He is currently volunteering there. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, 7/31/2021 at Church of the Assumption, 51 7th St. W., St. Paul, MN 55102. Visitation will begin at 9:00am, and the Mass will begin at 10:00am. Gathering 4-8pm Thursday, July 29 at Willwerscheid Funeral Home, 1167 Grand Ave., St. Paul. Memorials preferred to Second Harvest and Catholic Charities. Visitation 4-8pm THURSDAY, July 29 at Willwerscheid Funeral Home, 1167 Grand Ave, St. Paul, 651-228-1006.. Memorial Mass of Christian Burial 10AM SATURDAY, July 31 at the Church of the Assumption, 51 W. Seventh St., Downtown St. Paul with a visitation 1 hour before the Mass. Memorials preferred to Second Harvest and Catholic Charities.
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