Saturday, May 15, 2004

Robert McKenna of F&M Group proud Elder grad

Started business after war

By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Robert W. McKenna Sr. returned home from World War II needing an income and a car to support his growing family.

He heard that the Department of War Assets was selling government surplus to veterans and soon his sales company was born. He and his in-laws began selling everything from waterproof matches, flight suits, barber towels and balloons to laundry soap. He made enough money to buy a 1938 Chevrolet.

That was the beginning of F&M Sales, which evolved into F&M Group of Harrison.

Mr. McKenna died Thursday at Mercy Franciscan Hospital Western Hills. The Green Township resident was 83.

He graduated from Elder High School in 1939. In 1943, he married Mary Geneva Friedmann of Price Hill and then headed to the Army Air Corps 10th Fighter Squadron.

In 1945, he returned home and formed his business along with his father-in-law and brother-in-law, both named Al Friedmann.

The company became a major tool and equipment dealer. F&M Group subsidiaries are F&M Supply Inc., Mafco Equipment Co., Arc Force Inc. and Vulcan Industrial Supplies. All five of Mr. McKenna's sons now run the business. Mr. McKenna retired in 1982.

He was proud of his Irish heritage and was a lifelong member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Cincinnati.

He and his wife traveled extensively and had homes on St. Croix and in Naples, Fla.

In October 2003, he was awarded the Elder High School Altiora Award, for his lifetime pursuit of the "higher things."

"All of us live within a half mile of each other," said one of his sons, Daniel. "My father meant everything to me. He was the best friend a man could have - he was just the best."

Mr. McKenna's daughter, Mary Vogel, said her father took care of his family.

"My dad was a true patriarch in the Irish sense of the word," she said. "He was the centerpiece of our lives. He taught us the importance of family and friends and living life to its fullness."

One of his grandsons, Michael K., said his grandfather always said he loved three things the most: his family, his wife and Elder High School.

"He was a character, an all-around great kind of guy. If there was anything you needed, he'd be there. He had a great sense of humor," said his grandson.

In addition to his wife of 60 years and his daughter, survivors include five sons, Robert W. Jr , Patrick, Daniel, Michael and William, all of Green Township; 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Visitation is 3-6 p.m. Sunday at Radel Funeral Home, 650 Neeb Road, Delhi Township. The funeral is 10 a.m. Monday at Our lady of Visitation Church, 3172 South Road, Mack.

Memorials: Panther Athletic Complex, 3900 Vincent Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45205.

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