Emma Louisa Copper Kenney
On Saturday, August 24th, 1935 Emma was born at home, in Burlington, NJ. Named in honour of her Aunt Emma, who delivered her into this world, Emma was welcomed by her parents, Joseph and Evelyn Copper and sister Evelyn.
On Saturday, May 7th, 2022 Emma died peacefully at home, in Riverside, NJ. She was comforted by her loving children Nancy, David and Warren as her soul left her earthly home to enter into the Kingdom of God and be welcomed again by her parents, her husband Bob and other loved ones who have gone before her.
Emma and her family lived in Burlington, until they moved to Riverside when Emma was nine years old. Her close knit family loved spending time together especially after her father came home from working his many jobs.
Emma went to Riverside Public School. She graduated from Philadelphia Modeling and Charm School and enjoyed quite a prestigious and active career as a beautiful model. Meanwhile she also worked at J&H Television, Grants Department Store and ran the bookeeping and loans department at the Riverside Trust Company.
Friends for years, Emma married Bob Kenney on June 8, 1957 at St. Peter’s Church in Riverside. Love and commitment was the foundation of their 58 year marriage and they were blessed with 6 children: Robert, David, Stephen, Warren, Nancy, and Edward.
A loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, and grandmother, Emma set aside her career goals to raise and nurture her family. While Bob worked multiple jobs at a time, Emma took care of everything on the homefront… and with six children, she seldom slowed down!
While tending to all the every day needs of her family, she found many ways to let her talent and imagination shine through. In fact, she created masterpieces.
She made Christening outfits, baby clothes, Halloween costumes, and Sports Night costumes. For over 2 decades, she was the uniform Mom for St. Peter’s CYO and the Riverside Bombers, tailoring and reparing the classic wool baseball uniforms.
She loved to sketch, draw and paint; a life long hobby that she shared with her great granddaughter Christina Adams. Emma could capture a scene in nature with magnificent detail as well as effortlessly sketch people including facial expressions.
Emma was also an exceptional cook. She loved making old family recipes by heart and sharing stories that accompanied them thereby always keeping her family close. She was also great at creating new favorites. She was famous for her Hungarian Goulash, Beef Stew, Meat Cake dinners, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Meat Loaf, Oyster Stew, and many more. All an expression of her love and in a seemingly endless supply, she truly spoiled us all with her homemade meals.
Emma would make gourmet feasts, host huge get-togethers and also had the ability to quickly “throw together” a delicious meal to feed her family and any of their friends that wanted to stay. Even as a young wife she would regularly feed the entire Bombers baseball team. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert; she knew our favorites and as grandson Timmy says, “Grandmom didn’t let anyone leave without offering to feed you.”
In 1973 Emma fell and broke her ankle severely. Her physicians were concerned that she may never walk again. But instead, her strength and determination became all the more evident. Through long and intense physical therapy, she regained her ability to walk. She endured life long pain but she carried on, strong and proud.
In fact, Emma went on to walk many proud moments and did not let this injury slow her down. She considered every day a gift and she continued to embrace life with excitement, enthusiasm and her own little playfulness.
One moment that brought her incredible joy was walking in to meet her first born grandchild, Colleen. Another was on April 7, 1991 when she walked the entire 15 Kilometer MS Super Cities Walk. She was extremely proud of that accomplishment and the medal she was awarded. In 1998, during a camping trip with Warren and his family, she hopped out of the car ahead of everyone else to excitedly run, not walk, the Appalachian trail. And she even bravely took a flight to Florida, all by herself so that she could meet up with Nancy after a conference and enjoy a vacation together.
Emma’s strong determination and never give up attitude played a large roll in her recovery and it was also evident in the way that she would nurse others back to health and provide care for her family, no matter the need, step by step. From minor injuires like skinned knees and broken bones to major life threatening injuries, Emma took care of her family. Always! And when her husband Bob became seriously ill she was there for him. She helped care for the love of her life and she was beside him, in their living room, holding his hand, comforting him when he took his final breath on September 6, 2015.
Being active in her Church and in her community was also a very important part of her life. She was parishioner of St. Peter’s RC Church and then later St. Casimir’s RC Church, now part of Resurrection Parish. She was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis / Secular Fransciscan Order and professed on October 28, 1975. She served as Eucharistic Minister for St. Peter’s Church, making sick calls to homes and visits to local hospitals. And she was also a member of the Altar Rosary Society.
She volunteered her time with many organizations including St. Peter’s PTA and Bingo committee, the Rams Booster Club, the Deborah Hospital Auxillary – Riverfront Chapter (Membership Coordinator) and the Riverside Historical Society (Social Secretary), to name a few.
Emma was also the unofficial team Mom for several teams and organizations that her family participated in.
Emma loved. She laughed. She smiled; a beautiful smile that was genuine and welcoming. Her smile and her kind, “Hello!” would strike up conversations with strangers everywhere she went.
Emma enjoyed adventures. Big and small.
She would often fondly recall some of her favorite trips like when she and Bob celebrated their “2nd honeymoom” by taking all 6 kids with them to Skyline Drive, VA; the RV trip across the country, with her grandaughter Rachel and daughter Nancy to visit her brother Joe and sister-in-law Stella; trips to Ocean City, Cape May, and the Outer Banks with Nancy, Scott and Baxter and the many rides that she and Bob enjoyed together on their scooters.
As her mobility declined, her power wheelchair, the ELKMOBILE, gave her new independence getting around outside. She continued to live with zest and enthusiam despite many challenges.
One of her favorite past times was simply enjoying relaxing time with her loved ones, in her butterfly garden, looking for visits from wildlife. She even became an avid sky gazer despite her vision disturbances.
Just recently, Emma was able to complete one of her final wishes with the help of granddaughters Colleen and Rachel, great granddaughters Christina and Riley and daughter Nancy. Together they were able to successfully take Emma to Island Beach State Park to enjoy the ocean in all its splendor.
Emma was preceeded in death by her parents, Joseph and Evelyn, siblings Evelyn and Joseph and her beloved husband Bob,
as well as her favorite furry four-legger Baxter.
She is lovingly missed by many. She is survived by her children: Robert (Susan), David (Lisa), Stephen (Shelly), Warren (Barbara), Nancy (Scott Ellis) and Edward (Joelle); her sister-in-law Judy Kenney Carey; her sister-in-law Stella Copper; dear cousins; neices and nephews and all of her gandchildren, great grandchildren, and her special love-related extended family – near and far.
The past several years have been increasingly challenging for Emma. But she faced illness and progressively debilitating changes with the same grace and determination that she always had. She was able to remain at home, lovingly cared for by her devoted daughter, Nancy.
Having endured much suffering and loss throughout her life, Emma also lost a great many friends to COVID-19. She and her caregivers were diligent in protecting her from exposure to the virus. She enthusiastically received her vaccines, encouraging others to the do the same and explained with a great deal of pride how she was doing her part to protect herself and others. Fortunately, Emma remained COVID free.
In accordance with Emma’s wishes, masks are required for all of Emma’s services. Always looking out for others, she purchased masks ahead of time, to have available for those who do not have them to wear for her services.
We will celebrate and remember Emma with a viewing at Sweeney’s Funeral Home in Riverside, NJ and her funeral Mass at Resurrection Parish, St. Casimir’s Church in Riverside, NJ.
Viewing: Friday, May 20th from 6-8pm and Saturday, May 21st from 9-10am.
Mass: Saturday, May 21st at 10:30am.
Interment to follow at St. Peter’s Cemetery, Riverside, NJ.