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Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017 08:56 am

A magnet that drew people together

GEORGE KENNEY June 4, 1937 - Dec. 16, 2016

I met my late father-in-law, George Kenney, on Thanksgiving Day 1986 at Washington Park. It was the beginning of a friendship that would last for 30 years. Many of you may have known George as a lifelong resident of Springfield, a practicing attorney or through his involvement in the American Business Club.

There are two stories about George which epitomize his personality and outlook on life – one about the piano and another about the oven.

George’s house (known as the Alberta Heights Social Club) was a gathering place for his many friends. It reminded me of the bar “Cheers” and featured a baby grand piano in the family room. In the spring of 1987, I was driving George and some friends to a game in St. Louis. As we approached the exit to Busch Stadium, George shouted from the back of the van, “I wish I had brought the piano because the Cardinals tickets are on top of it!”

That phrase became our code for the countless sporting events we would attend together and “Who brought the piano?” is a phrase that we still use today!

George’s house was also a favorite spot for his friends to conduct their Christmas Eve gatherings. A few years ago, I arrived early to help set up and start cooking the side dishes. Upon my arrival, George asked me to go to the basement to “preheat” the oven. I shouted upstairs to him that the oven was already set at 350 degrees. To which he replied, “No wonder my CWLP bill is so high. I haven’t been downstairs since last year!”

Upon the unfortunate occasion of George’s passing, I asked people if they could describe George in one word. Words that seem very apt are “magnet” and “glue.” George, through his many diverse groups of friends, was truly a “magnet” that would draw people together. Just as importantly, he was the “glue” that kept groups, like the Monday football group or the fishing trip group, together throughout the years.

I encourage you to take a moment to think about George as you look for his bench and tree in Washington Park or as you enjoy a beer from the ABC Club at the State Fair Grandstand.

George touched many people’s lives and he will be fondly remembered and sorely missed.

–Submitted by Keith Sias, son-in-law

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