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Edwin Kenneth North, affectionately known as Kenney, entered this world in 1949, on the day that is known historically as Pearl Harbor Day [December 7th.] Little did he know that his birth to Odessa Marie and Hal C. North would brighten up our entire household. As the last boy to be born in a blended BONUS family, he joined his older brothers Hoover, Damon and Harold James as well as sisters, Estelle North Campbell, CarolAnn, and soon Deborah Lynn. One cannot help but wonder if Kenney needed to demonstrate that he would hold up the family after–over the years–the departure of not only our father, but also our older brothers. For decades, Kenney stepped up to support family needs and generously shared his skills and time with us. In fact, he soon received the title Superhero from his two sisters who grew up with him.
Following his early education at Washington Elementary, Emerson Junior High, and Brackenridge High School from which he graduated in 1968, Kenney found his niche in sales. Early on, he began a paper route with San Antonio News and Express. He loved becoming an independent business man with his paper route activities. His paper route resulted in an unexpected turn of events that changed the trajectory of his life—later, you will know how. Though Kenney attended St. Phillips’s College, he soon decided that academia interested him less than the business world and corporate America. In this way, he set his sights on a media ad sales position with KAPE radio. He met and interviewed with Franklin Collins. He did not receive the position. When he returned home to share the story with our mom, he received her wise counsel that his appearance left much to be desired. He corrected that matter immediately, returned to KAPE requesting a second opportunity to interview with Mr. Collins, received an ad salesman position, and firmly established himself in the San Antonio community as a “cracker jack” media ad salesman. HIs career resulted in award after award as top salesman at KAPE, KISS, Time-Warner, and I-Heart Media. Kenney’s top salesman awards inspired our mom to challenge him to a “best salesperson” contest. After our mom retired as a Registered Nurse, she accepted a sales associate position with Meadowlawn. She and Kenney in the spirit of fun-filled competition showed their skills as top salespersons and both received recognition and awards for their efforts in their respective fields.
Earlier in this obituary I mentioned Kenney’s good fortune. While managing his paper route, one day he met two young boys who began to work with him. Little did he know then that these two boys, Robert Jr., and Charles “Kee” Merrill, would become his loving sons. Kenney met their mom and according to him, instantly, he was smitten. He and Lydia Mae courted, married, built their lives, shared their home, enjoyed their family and friends for nearly forty years. They cherished their sons, their daughters-in-law aka their daughters-in-love, and their respective church ministries. Kenney and Lydia worked tirelessly with their grandchildren, advocating, attending, and encouraging their interests and participation in sports and other activities throughout their high school and college days. Their grandson, affectionately known as “Lil Robert”, continues to hold a record of athletic achievements as a celebrated member of the Texas Christian University football team.
Kenney loved God, his church, his family, his friends, his fraternity, his golf and his opportunity to serve wherever God opened the door. He enjoyed robust laughter, lively sports talk, football commentary, basketball, track and field as well as tennis competitions. He could hardly wait to play golf with his faithful golf buddies who watched him stay the course throughout most of his valiant battle with metastatic cancer. Kenney knew athletic/sports statistics over decades, and you better not challenge his facts. His sharp memory often surprised everyone.
Living on without him sometimes seems unthinkable to those he leaves behind. Nonetheless, we must go on as we hold him close in our heart–Sons and daughters-in-love: Robert Jr., [Katrina], Charles “Kee” [Ruby], his namesake nephew Kenneth Ashley [Rebecca], grands, Robert III [Tammie], LaTia, Charles Jr. [Carol], Roderick [Desarae], Derrick [Jennifer], several great grands, sisters CarolAnn & Deborah Lynn, first, second, third, and fourth cousins, [too many to name], bonus brothers Ronald “Chicken” Waiters, Sr. [Gracie], Oscar Ford, Jr., Comido Smith [Elerene], lifetime friends, Ed Williams [Gidget], the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity brothers, the United Methodist Men, the East St. Paul United Methodist Church male chorus, the pastor, leadership and family of East St. Paul United Methodist Church, his many golf buddies, a host of other cherished nieces, nephews, relatives, friends and a very special friend, with whom he shared abounding sweetheart joy, Janice S. Pryor.