NEWPORT NEWS - The Rev. Dr. Robert Furman Kenney, Sr., died on the 11th of March, 2013, at the Chesapeake. He was born on August 6, 1920, in Pontotoc County, MS, the son of Charles Len Kenney and Pansy King Kenney. He grew up in Chesterville, a suburb of Tupelo, MS. He graduated from the Tupelo High School with "special distinction". He attended the Clarke Memorial College and received his B.A. from Mississippi College in Clinton, MS., graduating Magna Cum Laude. He taught school for one year. The following year he joined the U.S. Navy and was later transferred to the Ninth Marine Regiment of the Third Marine Division serving as a Hospital Corpsman. He saw duty during WWII in California, New Zealand, Guadalcanal and made the assault landings on the islands of Bougainville and Guam. In 1944, he married his college sweetheart, the former Evelyn Edwyna Moore of Meridian, MS. They both loved to travel and spent many happy days and weeks seeing the world. Together, they visited the Holy Land, Europe, Alaska and during their final overseas trip, they visited Australia and then New Zealand where spent time in the places he had spent time as a young Marine. Following the war, he resumed his education and earned a Master of Divinity Degree and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY. During his seminary days, he had student pastorates. Upon graduation, he became the pastor of the Smithfield Baptist Church and later of the Parkview Baptist Church. His last post of duty was as the CEO of "The Chesapeake" (then known as the Newport News Baptist Retirement Community) a post which he served for nineteen years. During his retirement years, he served as an interim pastor in several local churches and supplied the pulpit in many other churches. He taught in and was Director of the Boyce Bible School, a subsidiary of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for several years and also taught in the University of Richmond off-campus school. He also was a guest lecturer in religion classes at Walsingham Academy in Williamsburg. Furman was a member of the Newport News Lions Club and served a term as its president. He received the Lions Club Melvin Jones Fellow Award for his service and contributions to the work of the Lions Club. He was active in other civic groups and committees focusing on inter-denominational and inter-racial accord. He held various positions in the local and state areas of denominational activities and was elected to serve as the President of the Virginia Baptist Pastor's Association. He was a member and served as President for two terms of the Southern Baptist Ministries with the Aging, an organization which has expanded from coast to coast. Locally, he was a pivotal figure in the formation of the Virginia Association of Not-for-Profit Homes for the Aging of which he remains a member emeritus. He was the author of sermons appearing in the Zondervan's "Pastors Annual" and in "More Southern Baptist Preaching". He wrote a Doctoral Thesis titled: "Jeremiah's Distinctive Contribution to the Hebrew Psalmody". He compiled a two-volume pictorial history of the first thirty years of THE CHESAPEAKE. He is the author of nine books including: "People Like M'Self", "Lady of Steel", "Murder in the Manse", "Chesterville, the Village at the End of the Road", "King David: My Life as I Remember It", "An Unlikely Saint", "Detective Donovan Tackles a Three Pronged Mystery", and "Pop's Cabin" which he completed in January of this year. Recently when he reviewed his life, he said he broke it into parts: He was a student, he served his country as a Marine in Combat, he was a minister, he was the CEO of The Chesapeake, he was a teacher, he was a world traveler and he was an author. It has been said that he was a man who transformed himself when his circumstances changed with the passage of time. He made the best out of his opportunities to serve and lived his life to the fullest until his final hours. He will be missed by many but will always be a part of the lives of those who knew and loved him. He was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn Moore Kenney, his parents Mr. and Mrs. C. Len Kenney and his sister, Mrs. Sara Lynn Millar. He is survived by his son, COL (Ret) Robert F. Kenney, Jr. and his wife, Mary Jane, of Williamsburg, VA, and by his daughter, Martha L. Kenney of Louisville, KY, and her partner, Ann Deibert of Louisville, KY, by two grandsons, Patrick Kenney of Alexandria, VA, Alex Kenney of Williamsburg, VA, and by a niece, Sarah H. Davis and her husband Dan of Huntsville, AL. The family will receive friends, Friday March 15th at Peninsula Funeral Home between 6:30 and 8:00. Funeral Services will be held, Saturday at North Riverside Baptist Church at 1:30 with interment to follow at Peninsula Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to North Riverside Baptist Church, 311 Selden Road, Newport News, VA 23606 or to the Benevolence Fund of The Chesapeake, 955 Harpersville Road, Newport News, VA 23601.
Published in Daily Press on Mar. 14, 2013.