Josephine Mary Kenny

Josephine Mary Kenny was a woman born in Ireland who didn’t shy away from much. When she and her husband, Charlie Kenny, were younger and wanted a reprieve from their hectic business, Square Deal Auto Body on Manhattan’s West Side, they would hop on a motorcycle or fly their small plane to their weekend home in Montauk, landing on one of the fairways at the Montauk Downs golf course because the Montauk Airport hadn’t opened yet.

“And a lot of the time she did that trip she was eight or nine months pregnant,” her daughter Maureen McGurk said with a laugh yesterday. “She had 12 children.”

After moving to Montauk full time in 1957, with nine of their children already in tow, the Kennys opened Kenny’s Tipperary Inn on West Lake Drive. Mr. Kenny was also involved in other Montauk businesses, including the development of the East Lake Marina, before his death in 1994.

Mrs. Kenny remained active at the inn until her death from congestive heart failure on Saturday at her daughter Mary Ellen Schon’s house in South Windsor, Conn. She was 93.

Josephine Mary Kenny was born to Mary Ellen Brett Sweeney and Paul Sweeney on Aug. 13, 1925, in Clonmel, a town in County Tipperary, Ireland. Her family came to America when she was 2 years old and initially settled in the Yorkville neighborhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Mrs. and Mr. Kenny, her childhood sweetheart, were married on Dec. 29, 1945 — or about six years after he took her on their first date to see the theater release of “The Wizard of Oz.” 

In addition to Ms. McGurk, of The Woodlands, Tex., and Ms. Schon, she is survived by eight other children: her daughters Joanne Mendillo of East Hampton, Conn., Patricia Bennett of Moodus, Conn., and Kathleen Dittrich and Theresa Menter, both of Lake George, N.Y., and her sons David Kenny of Lake George, Charles Kenny of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Edward Kenny of Montauk, and John Kenny of Coconut Creek, Fla. 

Also surviving Mrs. Kenny are 30 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and four of her siblings: Paul Sweeney and William Sweeney of Jupiter, Fla., Mary Ellen Sweeney Klinck of East Haddam, Conn., and Sharon Sweeney Livermore of Marblehead, Mass.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Kenny was predeceased by a son, Lt. Michael Kenny, a daughter, Eileen Kenny Kim, a great-grandson, Grady Gosman, and three of her brothers: Patrick Sweeney, Edward Sweeney, and Michael Sweeney.

When not busy with family and business, Mrs. Kenny liked to watch professional sports, particularly her beloved Yankees, and she enjoyed her time at the Montauk Senior Center, especially on bingo day.

A wake was held on Sunday at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton, with a Mass following on Monday at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Montauk. Mrs. Kenny was buried at Most Holy Trinity Cemetery in East Hampton.

The family has suggested that those wishing to make a memorial contribution in Mrs. Kenny’s name consider the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at lls.org, or a charity of their choice.