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12 LOYAL TO HIS ROOTS The late Eugene McKenney was a Depression-era orphan who overcame incredible odds to lead an extraordinary life. When he passed away on Feb. 15 2014 at the age of 86 he was a multi- millionaire but he never forgot the people or the institutions that helped him succeed in life. One of those institutions was F.F. Thompson Hospital where in the 1940s Gene found familial love and a level of success that would alter his Capra-esque life forever. Gene was born in 1927 and for reasons unknown given up to the care of Father Bakers Orphanage in Lackawanna NY. Gene was never adopted. When he turned 16 he was sent to the Newark State School a collection of brick buildings that housed among others those who were too old for orphanages but too young to be left alone in the world. At age 18 he made his way to Canandaigua and The Chosen Spot wrapped its arms around him. Gene landed his first job at Thompson as an orderly the lowest paying job in the facility and lived in a room located just above the hospitals laundry room. Although lacking a formal education he was a quick study with an uncanny ability to make friends. As a hard-working orderly he befriended Dr. Collins Connie Carpenter and Dr. Bill Weeden within two years working his way up from laundry duty to the operating room where he became a highly-valued surgical technician. And then he met Ed Hanley and his life took another incredible turn as did Eds. I was a patient when I met him said Ed now an attorney a Thompson benefactor and a former member of the Thompson Health Ethics Committee. I had surgery and he would stop by to see how I was doing. I introduced him to my parents and when they learned he had no family they took him into our home which was a real turning point in his life. He finally had the love of a family. I was an only child and Gene was like a brother to me Ed said. Best of all he introduced me to Ann Cleveland a student nurse at Thompson whom I married 60 years ago. Together we have six children who always considered Gene their uncle. After a few years with the Hanley family Gene was drafted into the Korean War served two years and then returned to Canandaigua. He obtained a job with Eastman Kodak Co. and transferred to the film giants offices in California where he worked as a Kodacolor technician. He never married. Ed says his lifelong friend was a shrewd investor and the Hanley family was not surprised to learn of his generous donation in support of Thompsons Sugical Care Center. Its typical of Gene to remember his years with Thompson Hospital and make such a generous gift said Ed. He never forgot his roots in Canandaigua. He visited often. He was very loyal to his friends and grateful for his life and he truly appreciated whatever assistance he was given along the way.