October 19, 1920 - April 27, 2013
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Roger DeSalvo McKenna was born on October 19, 1920 in Madison, Wisconsin, the youngest child of John C. McKenna Sr., a suburban developer, and Marcia McKenna (nee Nickels). Roger graduated from Madison West High School as valedictorian at the prodigious age of sixteen before going on to earn a BA and BS from University of Wisconsin-Madison. During World War II, he served as a Lieutenant Commander and chief gunnery officer of the U.S. Naval Destroyer U.S.S. Wickes in the Pacific theatre. Roger received numerous medals and commendations, including a Silver Star for shooting down at least five kamikazes during the Okinawa campaign, and a Bronze Star for his heroism at the Battle for the Recapture of Corregidor. Roger, a devout Roman Catholic, would tell his family often that he decided to become a physician to make up for the destruction he engaged in during the war. In 1951, he graduated from Northwestern University Medical School before moving to Los Angeles County Hospital for his internship and residency. In L.A. Roger met and, in 1954, wed Mary Hickey, with whom he would have eight children. The next year, he became a medical instructor at UCLA and also began a private practice in internal medicine in Westwood. After his wife's unexpected passing in 1964, he took a position as a corporate physician for Signal Oil and Gas. In 1967, Roger married Joan Kennedy, with whom he had four children. When Signal Oil moved its headquarters to San Diego in 1980, Roger relocated with his family to La Jolla and ultimately retired there. He is survived by his wife Joan; twelve children: Terry (Scott), Michael (Sue), Maureen (Tom), Annie (Gerry), Kevin (Jodi), Patrick (Mary), Kathy, Mary (Frank), Maria (Josh), Christopher (Sally), Sean (Shelley), and Matthew; and twelve grandchildren: Meghan, Maura, Patrick, Elisabeth, John Roger, Kate, Ryan, Colin, Michael, Miles, Isabella, and Charlie. Roger cherished his family above all else.
Services will be held at St. Paul the Apostle Church in West L.A. on Thursday, May 2 at 10:30 AM followed by burial at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Paul The Apostle Church & School Campaign, c/o Mary Pat Cooper at MPCooper@sp-apostle.org.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on May 2, 2013