Monica McKenney died peacefully at her home in Cohasset December 23, 2019. At her time of passing, she was surrounded by her husband, her three daughters, their families and her four grandchildren. As Beethoven played, there were stories, tears, laughter and so much love - exactly as Monica wanted.
Monica was known for her elegance, her kindness, and hospitality. She made anyone and everyone she met feel seen and heard and like they were the most beautiful person in the world.
She is survived by her husband, Brian McKenney of Cohasset, Massachusetts, her children Cara McKenney and her husband Tze Chun of Los Angeles, California, Bree McKenney and her husband Chris Detoy of Brooklyn, New York and Maura McKenney of Cambridge, MA, and their families, including her grandchildren Henry, Theodora, and Joan Chun and Domino McKenney Detoy.
Born in 1951 in Milwaukee, WI, Monica was the daughter of Catharine Fowler and Jerome Young. She spent her early life in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin with her late brother, Bradley Young, her sister, Cynthia Young and brother, Randall Young. All who remained devoted to each other until her dying day. She attended Dominican High School, and then decided she wanted to expand her world and headed east to Umass Amherst.
Massachusetts had never seen a blonde bombshell quite like Monica. With one look, Brian was smitten. Her beauty, smile, charm and elegance were captivating. She fell for his Irish good looks and his poetic ways. They spent the summer of 1974 on Cape Cod where Brian had a donut-fueled career as a summer cop and Monica lifeguarded at Bank Street beach in Harwichport. Brian proposed on that beach, and Monnie said yes. They were married in 1975 in a double wedding with Cindy and her husband, Roy Johnson. It was a hell of a party.
They decided to settle in Cohasset to build a life and family together, living of course, by the beach. When they weren’t enjoying Sandy Cove, they started to build their careers. Monica began working for Execu-Tours, a destination and convention company owned by Brian’s mom, Ellen McKenney Fahey. The company helped executives moving to Boston feel comfortable in their new home, and Monica was a natural. In 1979 Brian and Monica welcomed their first child, daughter Cara. Daughters Bree and Maura soon followed suit and Monica had her girl squad.
For a mid-western girl, Monica sure could ski. Having cut her teeth at Hieliger Huegel in Wisconsin, she devoured the larger mountains of the east coast and by following in her tracks Brian soon became and expert skiier himself. For the girl’s entire childhoods, the family spent winter weekends skiing Sunday River, Maine. Every winter Friday, Monica would pack up food and gear and the girls and their dog Jackson and they’d drive in to Boston, pick up Brian and hit the road north. Those weekend mornings Monica would be up with the sun, braiding all the girls hair, packing lunch and getting everyone to the lodge for first tracks. Monica’s perfect form, carving into untouched snow, was a thing of beauty.
Another family tradition Monica built during the winter months was her Christmas Eve party. Friends and family counted on it every year as the cornerstone of the holiday season. All looked forward to the fun, the music, the tree with its endless ornaments, the countless nutcrackers, the incredible feast and Monica’s expansive collection of nativity scenes from all around the world. Nobody did Christmas like Monica.
Monica’s giving spirit extended into her career at Wellspring MultiService Center in Hull. When she joined the organization, Monica took Wellspring’s worthy mission and made it the cause celebre of the South Shore. She turned their fundraising efforts into elegant galas. Both the glamour and the donations increased exponentially. She worked in the same way she lived: with gentle grace, currying favors from her massive network of friends and connecting people from all walks of life. Most of all she supported and guided staff to create an environment of inclusion and acceptance. Wellspring staff and volunteers knew her as their Development Director, but all claimed her as their friend.
It is fitting that Monica transitioned during this holiday season. Beyond the fact that Monica’s love for Christmas decorations bordered on the obsessive, it’s the time that best encapsulates who she was. It’s the season of generosity, and gratitude. A week aglow with friends, family, and parties. A celebration of love’s endless and everlasting gifts, gifts that will continue to carry her and her family through all the seasons yet to come.
There will be a wake on Friday, December 27th from 4-8pm at the McNamara-Sparrell Funeral Home in Cohasset, MA and a funeral mass on Saturday, December 28 at 11AM at St. Anthony’s Parish in Cohasset.
To send flowers to Monica's family, please visit our floral section.