Virginia "Ginny" Banning Kenney, 87, lived a life of exceptional variety and accomplishment. She spent her early childhood in Evanston, Ill. During the Great Depression, her parents, Thomas and Margery (nee Ames) Banning moved their family to the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. A neighboring author of children books included "Ginny Banning" as a main character in his "Bertram" series. Ginny attended and graduated from the University of Chicago, where she met Frank Deming Kenney. They married in 1944, as he prepared to serve in World War II. They loved and cared for each other for the next 66 years. Virginia also served her country in World War II, while working secretly for the Manhattan Project. She was acknowledged by the U.S. War Department for her "work essential to the production of the Atomic Bomb, thereby contributing to the successful conclusion of World War II." Ginny loved literature and devoted herself to politics and public service. She was president of the Illinois Federation of Republican Women from 1965 to1969, an alternate delegate to the 1968 Republican National Convention, and a member of the Defense Advisory Committee for Women in the Services. She also served as district assistant for U.S. Representative Robert McClory (13th Illinois) from 1971 to 1980. Ginny and Frank raised their four children in Barrington. She exhibited her love and protection of nature and "All Things Great and Small" by promoting horsemanship as a sport that develops responsibility for young people and served as a board member of Friends of Handicapped Riders. Ginny also devoted endless hours to an organization that cared for, enjoyed, and found exercise with basset hounds while enjoying the companionship both of our "best friends" and like-minded people. As though that life was not full enough, she and a very special friend combined for many years to put on an annual equestrian event in Barrington that became quite prominent, and she always cherished that partnership. In 2003, Ginny and Frank moved to live next to their son and daughter-in-law, Stu and Diana, in the country outside of Heyworth, Ill., near Bloomington. It was hard for Ginny to leave the town she loved and for which she had worked so much, but she soon warmed to Heyworth and its people. Her final years were spent in that special community, loving the beauty of the environs and the people there who came to know and care for her and who will miss her. Ginny will be greatly missed by many, but most of all by her husband, Frank; children, Claudia (Robert John) Carpenter, Pamela (Dirk) Voetberg, Sarah (Lee) Swanson and Stuart (Diana Estudillo) Kenney; grandchildren, Dirk (Michelle) Voetberg Jr., Denise Buford, Stephan (Samantha) Swanson, Timothy Swanson, Pamela Swanson and Christian Estudillo-Kenney; and great-grandchild, Luke Buford. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Heyworth Ambulance Service, P.O. Box 258, Heyworth, IL 61745. Ginny passed away at 3:17 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010, at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, Bloomington, Ill. A memorial service is being planned and information will be available at Calvert- Belangee-Bruce Funeral Home, Heyworth, 309-962-3191.
Published in Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on August 24, 2010