If you knew Josie, you knew her ten thousand megawatt smile that lit up her entire face! And when she laughed, she could light up the whole room!
Josie came to America from Mexico when she was 20 years old as a wife. She met her husband Charles in the Downtown Plaza in El Paso, Texas. She and her identical twin sister shared a bench when two soldiers strolled by to chat them up. After a bit, the sisters went to the restroom where her sister Micaela told her that she didn’t really like the guy she was sitting next to, so the sisters traded places and Josie sat next to Charles R. McKenney. They were married on October 15, 1950, and she made America her home.
They had two boys and two girls, Charles, Eddy, Diana, and Betty. They remained in West Texas until the kids were out of high school. They retired to go camping and ended up in Junction, Texas. After her husband passed, Josie and Betty stayed together and eventually ended up in Abilene.
In 1972, Josie had one of her proudest moments. She became a United States citizen. At her Naturalization Ceremony, for which she studied diligently, she was asked only three questions. How many representatives are in the House of Representatives? She confidently said 100! Then the judge asked how many senators does each state have? Realizing her mistake, she softly said two. Then he asked how many senators were in the Senate? With anxiety and fear in her eyes, she said 100. The judge told her she was right and had passed!
In Abilene, Josie worked in the cafeteria at Hardin Simmons. She loved working there interacting with the students and made friendships with her coworkers. It brought her great joy to joke with those students and give them extra fries!
Her daughter Diana lives in Alaska and she traveled there every year. She went during the winter breaks from Hardin Simmons and later when she retired – I mean stopped working – she would stay for three months or more in the winter. She delighted in the snow and the other worldliness of Alaska and her daughter’s life there.
After she ‘stopped working’, Betty took the reluctant Josie to the Rose Park Senior Activity Center in Abilene. She acclimated almost instantly. The somewhat competitive card and domino games fed right into her enjoyment of both of those. She was great at catching the bus to get there, but often somehow missed the bus at the end of the day. So, she just had to keep playing and have a reluctant daughter or son in law come and get her after work.
She attended Abilene First Baptist for a time. But when they formed the City Light mission that catered to the homeless, she was drawn to it. Once they set up regular meals, including Sunday breakfast, she was there every Sunday to help. She always had that smile on her face and you could tell she wanted to be there.
In the spring of 2014, Josie suffered a stroke. She lived in nursing home care until she died on Nov 20, 2020, at 90 years of age.
To honor Josie’s joy at the Rose Park Senior Center and her passion for City Light, donations would be welcome. And if you would prefer, a random act of kindness for someone in need in her memory would be a blessing as well.
Rose Park Senior Center, South 7th and Barrow, Abilene, TX, 79605
Select Other-Please Specify under Fund. In the Note box, enter City Light in memory of Josie McKenney