Bill McKenney (William E. McKenney III) Obituary With sadness, the McKenney family announces that William Edward McKenney III died of heart failure on 5/12/2023 in Virginia, just before his 70th birthday.
Born in Washington DC, Bill was the eldest child of the late Dr. William E. McKenney, Jr. and Mary E. (Holton) McKenney.
Growing up in Warwick RI, Bill was a graduate of Park Elementary School, Lockwood Jr. High School, and Bishop Hendricken High School, Class of 1971. He participated in all music, choral, and performing arts programs associated with Hendricken and with Prout-Hendricken Productions, including playing the lead, Henry Higgins, in My Fair Lady in his senior year. He received his Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1975 from Ithaca College, where he was an active member of the performing arts fraternity, Kappa Gamma Psi. He went on to receive his Masters degree in Musicology from Catholic University of America in 1981.
After college, Bill returned home and served as Music Director of the esteemed Music program at Hendricken from 1975-1980. In that position he oversaw the collaboration with Prout Memorial High School in all areas of music and the performing arts. He directed all band/Metronome performances at games and parades, concert band and chorales, and the acclaimed annual Prout-Hendricken musical productions. Under Bill, the band was well-known, respected, and frequently invited to perform in large local and statewide parades, culminating in the honor of being chosen to represent the State of RI in Washington DC for the Inauguration Parade in January, 1977. A natural teacher, Bill mentored and guided countless high school students, always setting high standards and instilling confidence. During this time he also sang with the prestigious diocesan Peloquin Chorale, participated in numerous summer stock seasons at Matunuck Theatre-By-The-Sea, and played the leading role in the Prout-Hendricken alumni production of 1776.
In 1980, he moved to Washington DC to pursue his Masters full time. In the District, he first worked at the eclectic Two Quail restaurant on Capitol Hill, then at The Wine Specialist. His love of all things wine and Italy became a central aspect in his life and he worked from then on as a wine consultant and distributor, most recently with Siema Wines of Springfield, VA. As often as possible, Bill visited his array of friends and vineyards in Italy. He continued to pursue his passion in the performing arts, acting and singing in various DC-area theater productions and choirs.
Bill lived a full life, leaving this world far too soon. He enjoyed many, often inter-connected, social circles. Neighbors in the condominium complex where he had lived for 25 years recently elected him to their association Board, where he was a proponent and donor for their “Little Library” project. Bill spent his life celebrating and advocating for deserving causes and people, including his students, customers, family, friends - from school, DC, theater, or the wine world; his Florence “family”; and especially the LGBTQ community. He gathered these people together or joined with them to share conversation, music, laughter, experiences … always in the presence of good food and wine. If you were his friend, you knew how much he cared for you.
Bill is survived by a large family, including his two brothers, Paul F. (and Mary Ann) McKenney MD and Mark P. (and Tricia) McKenney, Esq. of Warwick, RI; and two sisters, Maryjo (and Ron) Covey, RN of Hooksett NH and Ann Marie (and Richard) DeMontigny of Acushnet, MA. He also leaves his cherished 13 nieces and nephews, 14 grand nieces and nephews, and numerous cousins and close friends.
As Bill directed, the family will host a Celebration of Life in his memory, at Buttonwoods, Warwick, RI on Sunday, July 2, 2023 at 4 pm. A short service will be followed by a gathering of family and friends at the Buttonwoods Casino. Kindly consider a donation in his memory, to the charity of your choice.