Robert J. McKenna

Feb 23, 1931 - Jan 15, 2012

Robert J. McKenna

February 23, 1931 - January 15, 2012


Robert J. McKenna died on Sunday, January 15, 2012, at home with his loving family. He leaves his wife of 55 years, Mary Jean Kelly McKenna.Bob was born at home in Providence, the son James C. and Margaret Gorman McKenna on February 23, 1931. He was educated at St. Patricks School, La Salle Academy, Brown University and the Catholic University of America. He received an honorary Doctorate from Our Lady of Providence Seminary. After graduating from Brown University in 1953, he joined the US Army and became a Russian Linguist at the Army Language School in Monterey, California. He married and moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked for the National Security Agency, the Walter Reed Medical Center and as a Special Assistant to Senator Claiborne Pell. He came to Newport, RI in 1965 to work for Salve Regina College now University where he taught and was an Administrator for 30 years.Bob became involved with Politics and served as a State Representative from 1969-1973 and as a State Senator from 1974-1985. He was the Mayor of Newport, RI from 1988-1994. Bob had a great interest in Higher Education and served as a member and chair of the Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority and the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority. He was also on the New England Board of Higher Education and served as chair. He worked for 17 years as the President of the Rhode Island Independent Higher Education Association. Bob served on the Board of Governors and was a member of the State Investment CommissionBob belonged to many civic organizations including the Irish Heritage Association, the Irish Museum of Newport Association, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and served as St. Patricks Day Parade Marshall, Festa Italiana, the Berkeley Society, the Rhode Island Historical Society, the Heritage Commission, the Heritage Harbor Project, the Fort Adams Trust, the Blue Cross Board, the Newport County Mental Health Center, the Preservation Society, the Newport Historical Society, the Newport Democratic City Committee, and along with his wife, he was Democrat of the Year 2005.He was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, the LaSalle Academy Hall of Fame, and was a Knight of St. Gregory the Great. He was a longtime member of the Right to Life of Rhode Island. He is also survived by his children, Kelly, Margaret Enkler and her husband Peter, Mark McKenna , Raymond McKenna and his wife Diane, Elizabeth McKenna, Paul McKenna and his wife Nancy, and Patricia MacDonald and her husband Kevin. He also leaves his pride and joy, his grandchildren: Erika and Tristan Enkler, Sean McKenna, Julia, Ryan, Kaitlin, and Joshua McKenna, Emily and Phoebe MacDonald, and Kyle and Brandan McKenna.His funeral will be held on Saturday, January 21, 2012, at 9:00AM, from the Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway, Newport, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 AM, in St. Josephs Church, Broadway and Mann Avenue, Newport. Burial will take place in Mount St. Marys Cemetery in Pawtucket.Calling hours will be held on Friday, January 20, 2012, from 4:00 to 8:00 PM, in the funeral home.Donations in his memory may be made to the Salve Regina University Scholarship Fund, 100 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, RI 02840.


Services for Robert haven't been added yet. Sign up below to be notified when the services are updated.

Let the family know who you are using our sign-in form below.

Just for verification: we never spam!

Get service directions in your inbox.

we never spam!

Get updates

Sign up to receive a notification daily whenever there is an update on this obituary.


we never spam!