Dan L. Kenny

My father was born on July 9, 1919.  His parents were Lee and Clare Connor Kenny. 

Dan grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and attended grade school at Sacred Heart and went to North and Central High, graduating in 1937.  After he completed high school, he worked at Union Pacific Railroad and went to Law School at the University of Omaha, at night for about a year. 

Dan's father, Lee, died when he was only 17 years old, and being the oldest at home, Dan supported the family by giving his entire pay check to his mother, who still had 7 children at home.  His mother would in return, give $10 per check, for Dan to have as spending money.

Dan's brother, Philip, recalled that he had learned most of his clever (dirty) tricks from Dan.  Dan would often cheat when they played croquet in the side yard at 5016 California.  Of course he wouldn't cheat unless he knew Philip was watching him-he wanted to get caught so he could keep up his reputation.  Philip also told a story about how Dan and Veronica would always come over on Sundays to the house.  Evidently, mother told Dan not to come by on one particular Sunday because she was having several friends over for dinner.  While mothers dinner was in progress, Dan called over to the house and gave a message that Philip was to repeat in front of her company. So Philip yelled out to Mother that 'Dan didn't want you to plan on coming over to his house tonight because he was having some friends over for dinner'.

There was another little story Phil told about Dan.  Their brother Jerry was poor-mouthing to Dan on how he could afford only one TV and how many clothes he had to buy for his children, etc.  Unbeknownst to Jerry, Dan had arranged for the St. Vincent de Paul Society to bring a complete Thanksgiving dinner to be delivered to Jerry's house --very embarrassing.

Dan made up little crazy nick-names for all his brothers and sisters.  Some of these are still in use today.

Jack,    "Sober "

Dan,    "Stormy"

Jerry,    "Snorgy", "FooFoo"

David,    "Schnebetz"

Mary Kathleen,    "Moo"

Rosanne,    "Yopey"

Philip,    "Peeno"

Lee,    "Bosco"

With war eminent, men were told that things would be better if they enlisted before the US actually declared war, so on Mar. 14, 1941, Dan enlisted, almost 9 months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  He was a Staff Sergeant during the war and was stationed in various places, first at Fort Riley, Kansas, then to North Africa, Italy, France and Germany.  He was a fast learner and was able to learn the language of Italian and French while over seas.

Dan proposed to Veronica Janda, my mother, before heading into the army.

A story that was passed down by his brother, Jerome Kenny about how Dan was able to make things work to his favor.  Dan was in Naples, Jerry was in England, and another brother, David was in France.  Jerry had a leave scheduled, so Dan was able to get a furlough also, so they decided to link up with David in France.  Jerry got there the traditional way, by hopping a plane on a scheduled flight, but Dan was unable to be so lucky, so he forged an officers signature, and hopped a flight to Paris where the three of them were able to unite.  While there, Jerry commented on how he was amazed at Dan's ability to communicate in French with the countrymen.

Another story that my mother told me, while he serving in Europe, my dad was commanded to do a task that was  senseless, it had something to do with marching his men across the marsh, or through some mud.  Many of Dan's men already had foot rot, from previous marches and battles.  My dad refused to order his men to do this and was bucked back to Private, but later, his rank of Sergeant was returned.

I am not sure of all the training my father had during his 5 years at was, but I do know that he worked with the railroad for the most part while overseas, and I used to have his army winter coat when I was younger and there was "Ranger" tag on it, so I assume he went through the Ranger training also.

Everything wasn't always smooth between Dan and Veronica though.  During the war, my mother called their engagement off for a period, even dated another man for a bit of time, because of something that her brother Danny had said that Dan did, but as soon as Dan returned, he wooed her into his arms, and proved that what Danny had said was false. My dad actually punched Danny over this.

Dan received an honorable discharge on Oct. 14, 1945 after coming home from Europe, and married Veronica on December 29th, 1945.

Dan enrolled back to Law School, full time, at Creighton University in 1946 and practiced Law with a fellow Law school friend named Mino St. Lucas beginning in 1949.  Together, they first had a small office at the Brandies Building in downtown Omaha, then moved office space to the Service Life Building, also in downtown Omaha.  Mino did the office and clerical work, while Dan was the one that went to court and litigated. 

Dan and Veronica had their first child, Oct. 31, 1946, and named her Susan.  Their next child was born on Aug. 22, 1948 and they named her Nancy.  They were so hoping for a boy by their third child, but the next two were more little girls, Mary Lou, Jan. 28, 1950 and Anne Marie, Nov. 3, 1951.  On Anne Marie's second birthday, I was born, Joseph A. Kenny, Nov. 3, 1953.

Dan was like clockwork when it came to coming home.  Veronica could clock him coming into the driveway at 4:30, every evening so he could watch "Howdy Doody" with the children.  He loved his little family.

At an earlier date, my dad took a trip up to the boundary waters, near Ely, Minnesota. He enjoyed fishing and outdoor sports.  A few years later, in May, 1954, he returned to Ely, with his brother-in-law, Frank Vlock, a friend, Dr. O. Neligh, and a business associate that ran a collection agency, Izzy Kraft. My dad, Dan, wouldn't be returning home with them.

  This group planned a spring trip and cost was a factor, so they also invited Izzy's brother, Nate Kraft to come along and help share the expenses.  They decided that Dan would be their guide, since he had been there before. 

With the ice just melting in northern Minnesota, the five men loaded some supplies into their car and headed north, driving straight through. They went to an outfitting resort ran by a man named Bill Rom, in Ely, Minnesota, who supplied them with two flat backed Sportsman canoes which are a bit wider than regular canoes. The resort also rented them all their supplies, including tents, cooking utensils, pots and pans, and food.  They had their own motors.  

This being Sunday morning, and according to Izzy Kraft, Dan wouldn't go any further without going to mass.  They found a church in Ely.  

After church, they drove down Hwy 18, on Furnburg Rd to Lake One.  This particular area was very panoramic, with a dense forest and very remote.  The Kawishiwi River runs through this area and because of some strategic damming, there are a series of lakes called Lake One, Two, Three and Four and the Hudson Lake.  

They entered in at Lake one, on the north end, with Dan and the Kraft brothers in one boat, and Frank and the Doctor in the other, and traveled through Lake One till they got to Lake Two, where they pulled their boats out of the water with all their supplies in them and portaged to Lake Two.  It is important to mention that the waters from the early spring melting cause the waters in the small areas of the river to be extremely fast, with "white water" and visible rocks and boulders, so portaging was not desired, but a necessity in some areas. 

They entered Lake two, Three and Four the same way as mentioned.  As they were approaching Lake Hudson, they landed on the north shore right before this island that resembled a large boulder. They thought, if they could make it to this small island, their portage wouldn't be so long. 

Frank's motor had flooded, but Dan and the Kraft's continued toward this island, into some pretty strong cross-currents, coming from both their sides.  The currents were running from west to east, so they were traveling up stream.  As these two currents met,(about 15 feet from this island), it caused the boat to turn.  If the motors were a bit more powerful, there would have never been an accident.  Nate Kraft was in the front of the boat, Izzy in the middle and Dan in the back, at the motor.  They supposedly got caught up in two currents causing the boat to turn to the right, causing the Kraft brothers to fall out on the right side.  It's uncertain why Dan didn't fall the same direction, but it's believed he hung onto the motor to get it back into control.  As that was impossible in these currents, the boat tipped, throwing Dan to the left.  The upset boat went in the current that the Krafts were in and they hung onto the boat and made it to the north shore.  Dan appeared to swim a few strokes then floated on his back, head up, showing no signs of trying to save himself.  There were no yells, swearing or plea's for help.  Frank tried to start his motor, but in the excitement broke the shear-pin.  So they set up stream in a circular motion to try to intercept Dan, by use of paddles.  Frank and Dr. Neligh kept calling for him to keep his spirits up.  When the boat got as close as a boat and a half length from Dan, he went under.  Frank dove in and felt around to see if he could find him.  He made several dives, feeling around for him, then went to shore.  He found a rope and tied himself off and went in again.  After several more dives, they knew he was lost.   The water was iron water, rust in color and one couldn't see in it,  It was 12'-15' deep where Dan went down.  

Many things could have caused Dan's death.  The boat could have hit him, the extremely cold water could have put him in shock, or he could have hit his head on a rock in the currents. The men were heavily clothed with overshoes on. 

The remaining party set camp.  It was still afternoon.  Frank recalled looking at his watch after he got back to shore; it was 2:00PM.  His watch stopped working about 12 hours later.  

They managed to salvage much of their supplies from the capsized boat.  Most of the gear were in water tight containers and seals sacks and were floating in this large whirlpool about 50' in diameter. They had some matches that were dry to start a fire.  At the camp site, they continued to look for Dan.  They didn't get much sleep that night.  Here they were, out in the middle of nowhere, virtually lost, and were uncertain how to get their way back.  They got up early the next day, and tried to find their way out.  A half day went by when luckily, they spotted a boat and it was a Ranger. He guided them back to the resort, where they called the sheriff's office.  The following day, Tuesday, they found Dan's body.  The original purpose for this trip was fishing, but according to Nate Kraft, these men never once set a line in the water.  Their goal was to reach Lake Hudson and fish there because they knew it was so remote and felt the fishing would be best.  

The Kraft's were badly bruised from this mishap due to rough waters and rocks as they returned home.

I was 6 month old when this tragedy had happened. It left my mother to raise the five of us alone. My mother never remarried.

Steve Kenny, Joe Vlock, Pat Stevens and Joe Kenny went to Ely.  Here is a summery of my fathers events and our events.-  Ely Trip

Joe Kenny

Information is from testimonies from Frank Vlock, I.R. Kraft, and Nate Kraft.  A letter from Jerome Kenny was also used to help document these tragic events.

As a side note, while trying to find the resort that Bill Rom ran on the web, I came across this article referring to outlawing motors on these lakes:

March 27, the Ely Rod and Gun Club reconfirms its support for an airspace reservation over the boundary waters at a meeting in which Forest Ranger Bill Trygg faces down angry opponents. Later that night a homemade bomb explodes outside the house of Bill Rom, an outfitter who supports the ban, but it causes little damage.  http://www.wilbers.com/ChronologyWildernessManagement.htm