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Chester A. Kenney (a.k.a., Grampa)

My grandfather, Chester Aloysious Kenney, was an engineer in the Corps of Engineers in WWII. According to his handwritten records, his service included:

  • October 1936 - March 1944 - US Army, Corps of Engineers, Providence R.I. - Engineering Aid - Hydrographic Surveys - Chief of Survey Party - Inspector of dredging and dock construction - Chief Inspector of dredging
  • March 1944 - January 1946 - U.S. Armed Forces - Pacific Theatre - 2821 Engineer Topographic Battalion - Airial (sic) Photo Multiplex Operator
  • January 1946 - July 1946 - U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers - Providence, R.I., District Hydrographic Surveys

When I think of my grandparents Chet & Dolly, images of the creaky house in Worcester, MA and the old Maine farm fill my memories. How vibrant they looked on their snow mobiles during the winters on that old farm, and how cool to have grandparents that actually rode snow mobiles to get around town. Though we didn’t see them often, growing up in a military family as we did, we always knew they were up north in New England.

Grampa Kenney was a soft spoken engineer with a gentle presence. And like so many from his generation, he proudly served his time in WWII, as an Engineer in the Corps of Engineers.

During a recent renovation at the Kenney Worcester two story colonial, now owned by my Aunt Helene and Uncle Eddie, Grampa’s slide rule resurfaced and found it’s way into my Dad’s possession. How precious to have such an important piece of family history. How many people actually know how to use one of these instruments anymore?

I also ran across a WWII pamphlet explaining the role of the Corps of Engineers, with great phrases such as:

  • “THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS KEEPS ‘EM MOVING”
  • “The Engineers can go under, over or through anything, or get it out of the way”
  • “Fighting the enemy, space or fire - just another job for the Engineers”
  • “Engineers destroy or build"

I actually created four tapestries of my Grampa Kenney. The first two were made using size 10 precision cut delica beads (slightly larger than the size 11 I normally use for my tapestries). FYI, unlike most measurement systems, bead sizes get smaller as the number increases! As a result, these first two tapestries turned out too pixelated, so I dismantled them, resulting in a “bead pool” of about 50,000 assorted colored beads. After weeks and weeks of sorting out the colors, I created the Chet and Dolly tapestry above from these beads, and once again, the image was still a little too pixelated for my liking. I am happy to say that the final tapestry in this Kenney series, Grampa in his hat and uniform using size 11 beads came out as I wished.

A special thank you to my parents, Matt and Kay Kenney, and my Auntie Rosalie Pyetzki, for sharing the amazing photographs and stories for this Spark Page.

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