John Donovan McKenna

By Orleans Hub Posted 30 July 2020 at 1:10 pm

Jack McKenna

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John Donovan “Jack” McKenna, 86, of Albion, passed away peacefully on July 27, 2020 after a long illness. Jack was born Feb. 5, 1934 in Albion to the late Mary and Joseph McKenna. (Yes, Mary and Joseph, but not that Mary and Joseph, despite what people might have said and thought at the time.)

Jack, aka “Jake the Snake” in his skinny college days, was a proud 1955 graduate and later recruiter for the State University of New York Maritime College. At school, he specialized as a navigator and subsequently served as an officer in the Navy on board the USS Antares and a ship’s officer for the Moore-McCormack Line in the Merchant Marine.

After deciding that dry land had some appeal after all, Jack completed pre-med sciences at the University of Rochester between 1963 and 1965 and graduated from SUNY Buffalo Dental School in 1969. He joined the faculty on a part time basis whilst running a private practice in Albion from 1969 to 1974, thereby earning the nickname “Doc” around town. He continued to teach and soon joined UB full time as Director of Patient Evaluation and Management, a position he would hold until he retired in 1996. Throughout his life, Jack never lost his love of the water and always looked forward to summers with his family at the McKenna cottage on Lake Ontario.

Jack was known for his quirky sense of humor, delighting his nieces, nephews, children, and generations of dental students with acts of mysterious levitation and disappearing limbs. JD, Doc, Jake the Snake, Papa Jack, Dad – he was an uncommonly gentle man who could explain the complex simply, yet weave a tall tale with such detail it just had to be true. He was a lifelong parishioner of Holy Family (formerly St. Joseph’s, named after his dad) even after moving to Buffalo from Albion in 1989.

Jack is survived by Karen, his devoted wife of nearly 49 years; their children, Joseph “Seph” (Stefanie) McKenna and Katherine “Kate” (Adam) McKenna; grandchildren, Bennet, Griffin and Everett; his sisters, Karen and Margot, and their families.

To watch Jack’s Mass of Christian Burial, please visit the Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes website (click here) and watch the video posted below the obituary.

Jack’s family requests that any donations made in his honor be directed toward the Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern, 121 N. Main St., Suite 311, Albion NY 14411.

Jack’s arrangements have been entrusted to Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, Inc., Albion. To share a special memory of Jack, please visit