Melvin R. Kenney Jr., a retired food broker who served one term in the Maryland House of Delegates during the 1950s, died June 4 of multiple organ failure at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium.
The Cockeysville resident was 93.
The son of a stevedore and a homemaker, Mr. Kenney was raised on 27th Street in Baltimore. After graduating from City College in 1935, he went to work as an office clerk for the old C.D. Kenny Co., a wholesale coffee and tea company.
"He was promoted to salesman after a man had a heart attack and didn't return to work, because my father had a car," said his son, Melvin R. Kenney Jr. of Cockeysville. "He was later promoted to sales manager."
Because he was a severe asthmatic, Mr. Kenney was given a deferment during World War II, his son said.
Mr. Kenney left C.D. Kenny in 1950 when he established Kenney, Morgan, O'Reilly Inc., a wholesale food brokerage firm. He was president of the company and later chairman of the board.
He retired in 1970.
His professional memberships included serving as president of Grocery Manufacturers Representatives for the Maryland-Washington area, president of Maryland & Washington D.C. Food Brokers Association, and director of the National Food Brokers Association.
Active in Republican politics, Mr. Kenney was elected to the House of Delegates in 1954 from the old 3rd District.
"You have to go all the way back to 1954. It was a most unusual year," said Samuel A. Culotta, a Baltimore lawyer and frequent Republican candidate. "That was the last time three Republicans from the city of Baltimore were elected to the House of Delegates. It was Kenney, Emory Cole from the old 4th District, and me."
"The fact remains that he had been one of the few Republicans in years to squeeze themselves into a Baltimore delegation to the Legislature, even for one term," reported The Baltimore Sun in a 1960 article.
"Mr. Kenney would be one of the first to admit his 1954 feat came on the coattails of Theodore R. McKeldin's sweep of North Baltimore, a sweep that helped him become the first Maryland Republican Governor to get re-elected," observed the newspaper.
Even though Mr. Kenney led the Republican ticket in the expansive 3rd District, he was defeated in his 1958 re-election bid. A year later, he ran for the presidency of the City Council and lost.
In 1960, he was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 4th Congressional District, losing to George H. Fallon.
Also that year, he was elected to the Republican State Central Committee.
In 1967, Mr. Kenney was appointed chief clerk to the Baltimore City Board of Elections by Gov. Spiro T. Agnew.
Mr. Kenney had been appointed in 1964 to the Marsh Market board by Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin, and to a second four-year term in 1968 by Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro III.
He stepped down in 1972, when Gov. Marvin Mandel appointed him co-chairman of the Maryland Food Center Authority, a position he held until 1979.
"Melvin was a very gregarious man. He was always smoking a big cigar, knew how to mix, was one damn good salesman and always a gentleman," said Mr. Culotta. "He was a guy who always hustled. I only have all but good memories of him."
The former longtime Woodbourne Avenue resident later moved to North Charles Street. He lived in Zephyrhills, Fla., for several years before settling in Cockeysville in 2000.
Mr. Kenney had been a member, trustee and a trust officer for many years of Faith Presbyterian Church in Northeast Baltimore.
A member of the Masons, Mr. Kenney was also a member of the Boumi Temple Shrine and the 100 Club of the Boumi Temple.
"My father loved going to thoroughbred races, playing cards and throwing parties," his son said.
His wife of 61 years, the former Elsie C. Riley, died in 2000.
Services were June 8.
In addition to his son, Mr. Kenney is survived by two grandsons and five great-grandchildren.