Ronald Lee Kenney
1938 - 2021


October 3, 1938 - October 7, 2021

Ronald Lee Kenney, formerly of Helena and Billings, Montana, passed away October 7, 2021, at home surrounded by his family. Lee was born to Roger L. and Dorothy H. Kenney in Helena, Montana on October 3, 1938. He attended Helena schools, graduating from Helena High School in 1956.

While in high school, Lee played basketball for Lloyd Skor and Mac McGinley. Following high school, Lee received a full-ride basketball scholarship to Montana State College in Bozeman. After suffering a severe ankle injury, he transferred to Lewis and Clark College in Lewiston, Idaho the following year and played for former Helena High School great Joe Brennan. Passing on the opportunity to play for either Eastern Washington or Whitman College after Lewis and Clark, Lee worked for a year and then moved to Billings where he earned his B.S. degree in secondary education from Eastern Montana College in 1962. Lee then went on to earn M.S. degrees in economics and history from Montana State University in Bozeman where he also received his administrative certification.

In September 1957, Lee married Dorothy Rae Jones to whom he was married for 25 years. Lee and Dorothy had three children, Deborah, Laurie, and Ronald Jr. Lee spent most of his working years as a high school administrator and was the principal of both Capital High School and Helena High School in Helena, Montana. After retiring in Montana, he was the principal of Jackson Hole High School and Big Piney High School in Wyoming.

Prior to working as a school administrator in Helena, Lee taught and coached at Drummond High School and worked for the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia; Kathmandu, Nepal; and Can Tho, Vietnam.

Lee is survived by his best friend and companion, Geraldine Layne, and his three children Debbie Kenney Johnson of Missoula, Laurie Kenney Tobol (Tom) of Helena, and Ronald L. Kenney, Jr. (Beth) of Utah. He loved them deeply and was extraordinarily proud of them all. He is also survived by his brothers Frank (Julie) Kenney of Medford, OR; Tom (Maria) Kenney of Chicago, IL; and his sister Sue Parker of Medford, OR.

His seven living grandchildren are Brian Tobol of Helena, Jamie (Tobol) Gates of Helena, Shaylene (Kenney) Checketts of UT, Amanda Johnson of Minot, ND, Sean Johnson of Havre, Erin Johnson of Missoula, and Joshua Johnson of Dickinson, ND. Lee's seven great-grandchildren are Riley and Logan Tobol of East Helena, Taetum Gates of Helena, Noah and Rylee Johnson of Havre, MT, and Paycen and Keeley Checketts of UT.

Lee was preceded in death by his parents, his brother William, his granddaughter Baylea Kenney and his grandsons TJ Tobol and Tyler Johnson.

Cremation has taken place. At Lee's request, no services are planned.

Published by Helena Independent Record on Oct. 15, 2021.
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6 Entries
Lee was a good man and he always had a smile ready. I will miss knowing he is on earth but I believe his spirit will live on. My condolences to the family.
Janet Boyer
October 15, 2021
I worked at both Helena High and Capital High under Lee. He was very supportive of and helpful to me as a Helena School District teacher and guidance/counselor. My sympathy to his family at this difficult time,
Carol Ann Dietzen
October 15, 2021
I consider Lee to be a great friend and mentor. He will be missed. My condolences to his family. RIP my friend.
Ed Beniger
October 15, 2021
I agree with Pat Kukes, I too loved working for Lee and thought he was the best Principal anyone could ever work with. My condolences to the family and Gerry.
Jane W Dodge
October 15, 2021
While I taught orchestra at Capitol High HE was the man. I absolutely loved working for him.
Patrick Kukes
October 15, 2021
I worked with Lee in the Helena School system for several years. All the years I worked with him he was a wonderful Professional and dedicated to the kids and the staff he worked with. Some of my favorite stories about that time of my life involve Lee. My condolences to all of you and I know he will be missed.
Joe Schendel
October 15, 2021
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