McKenna, Peter James Jr. (Pete) was born in Washington, DC to Peter and Mabel McKenna on August 24, 1924. He graduated from St. John's College High School in 1942 and he enlisted in the Army. He was assigned to Patton's 3rd Army, 80th Infantry division as an anti-tank gunner. He sailed to Europe on the Queen Mary, landed in Normandy, and fought his way through France, Luxembourg, Belgium (Battle of the Bulge) to Germany. On April 2nd, 1945 in Kassel, Germany, a tank shell exploded in his face and he lost his eyes and two fingers. He spent two years in the hospital before being discharged. He enrolled at Catholic University of America in 1947 and with help from the Veteran's Administration who provided readers, he graduated with honors in 1952. In 1948 while at the VA Hospital for more plastic surgery, he charmed his nurse Mary John and they were married in June 1949. In 1951 he was elected National President of the Blinded Veterans Association. In the next 11 years Pete earned his Masters of Arts degree in psychology at the University of Minnesota, had nine children and opened a Catholic gift shop in Richfield, MN. Pete was the main sales person at the "Marion Shop" until 1966 when he became the operator of a convenience shop at the Minneapolis City Hall and, with the help of all his children, served the needs of Minneapolis city employees. In 1977 he was able to utilize his counseling training to become a full-time benefits counselor at the VA until his retirement in 1989. Pete enjoyed travel by car, plane, and ship. As a member of the Friendship Force he travelled the world visiting Europe, Asia and South America. He went with his family to Blinded Veterans conventions all over the USA. He loved Boy Scout camp -- even in sub-zero Minnesota winters -- and counseled many scouts working on their citizenship merit badge. Pete was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Grace; his brother, Joe; his sisters-in-law, Alma McKenna, Adeline West, Jacqueline Brown; brother-in-law, Fr. Richard John; father- and mother-in-law, Joe and Elizabeth John; and his first-born son, James Joseph. He is survived by his loving wife, Mary; his children, Libby and Fred McGraw, Margaret McKenna Herrmann, John David and Veronika, Mary Catherine McKenna and John Spielman, Joe, Peter III, Mary Ellen "Nellie" and Mark Settergren, and Paul and Magyuris "Maggie"; 19 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren. Friends may call at Gill Brothers Funeral Home at 9947 Lyndale Ave., Bloomington, MN, Friday from 5 pm to 8 pm, rosary at 5:30 pm. Mass of Christian Burial at Assumption Catholic Church, 305 E 77th St, Richfield at 11 am Saturday, April 6, 2013, visitation starting at 10 am. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to the Blinded Veterans Association. www.bva.org. Rest in Peace Pete, and enjoy "seeing" your many friends and family members for the first time! www.GILLBROTHERS.com
This obituary was originally published in the Star Tribune.