Meet "Popeye" - World-class volunteer and donor
Phil (Popeye) and Friends.
61 years after ship’s commissioning a Destroyer Escort Sailors Convention
Capt. F. McCabe, Skipper of USS Menges (Torpedoed but Saved by her Skipper)
and Wife Betty (94 years young and 64 years married)
Phil, Gunners Mate 3/c USS Pettit DE253
Bob Quigley, CPO USS Crow DE 252
Phil Kenney, a volunteer member of the Willows Theatre Company set construction crew, and his family and
friends have made a much appreciated donation to the JMFC -a 150' x 60' prefab steel building valued at
$85,000. It will house production and technical support operations as well as scenery, costume and props
storage at the amphitheater.
Phil "Popeye" Kenney was born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island in 1926, and enlisted in the Coast Guard during
World War II. He married Barbara Gomes in 1949. They had two children, Wayne and Leslie.
cheerful greetings, Phil brings a ray of sunshine into the Willows Theatre production shop,
his colleagues agree. "I enjoy most things every day," says Phil. "When I awake and find no tag on my
big toe...I get going with a smile. Old honest Abe said, 'One is as happy or sad as they make up their
minds to be.' And the gift of the building in honor and memory of my loving wife Barbara Gomes Kenney
is one thing that makes me happy. Barbara loved our National Parks. In 1992, after she was diagnosed
to be in the third stage of Alzheimer's, we visited Muir Woods and the John Muir homestead. Barbara
asked for her own National Parks lifetime pass. The Ranger gave her one. She treasured that pass until
her death in 2001.
"The Willows Theatre is what I call my second family. Since 1998, I have volunteered approximately
9,000 hours and used my truck around 10,000 miles as the drayer for small sets, properties, and costumes.
I have worked as a 'wood butcher' to finish carpentry and install sets at the Willows Theatre for the
last five years. I did most of the carpentry for the first production of John Muir Mountain Days, and
for the last three years, I've helped to build the 1200-seat outdoor Amphitheater .
"My goal is to raise $100,000 to pay for construction of the new building. I believe theater and the
arts bring people together; it provides people from various cultures with shared experiences; it gives
people an opportunity to laugh and cry together. For all these reasons, I think this building is a
fitting memorial to Barbara, the love of my life, and to our family members and loved ones. The Phil
Kenney Production Center will symbolize family and community and provide opportunities for lives filled
with love and laughter. I hope you can be part of my dream."
You can help by making a tax-deductible donation to the John Muir Festival Center/Phil Kenney Production
Center fund. Your gift can be in memory of loved ones that have gone beyond as well as in honor of those
living. A plaque containing names of donors will be placed at the site.
DE wwii SAILORS, Marty Davis, Bob Quigley as well as Julia Loughran in Memory of
Bill Jenkins her DE Sailor Dad contributed to this. A plaque especially for ALL
DE sailors in memory and honor will be on display in building office, along with
plaque honoring and in memory of Kenney Family and another for Killed in Action
and Gold Star Mothers.
The pouring of concrete footings for the new Kenney Memorial Building
Please make your donation here.