Edgar Douglas "Doug" Kenna II, the well-known business leader, former NFF vice chairman and College
Edgar Douglas "Doug" Kenna II, the well-known business leader, former NFF vice chairman and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, passed away Jan. 28 in North Palm Beach, Fla. He was 88.
Born June 11, 1924, in Jackson, Miss., Kenna attended Ole Miss his freshman year before accepting an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. He quickly established himself as one of the finest athletes to ever attend West Point, earning eight varsity letters in football, basketball and tennis.
At quarterback and halfback under legendary Hall of Fame Coach Red Blaik, the 5-11, 180-pounder helped launch the great Army football teams of the 1940s. He played a key role on the 1944 national championship team that scored 504 points while giving up only 35 points the entire season. The team’s 56 points per game average still stands as a modern record. They posted a 9-0 record, and Kenna’s contributions at quarterback earned him 1944 First-Team All-America honors, leading to his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984. His athletic accolades also included All-America honors in basketball and captain of the tennis team. The 1945 class president at West Point, he was the Regimental Commander, and he ranked first in Aptitude for the Service in his graduating class of 854.
After fulfilling his military commission, including a tour as a member of the infantry in Germany, he returned to West Point as an assistant coach under Coach Blaik. His efforts helped the Black Knights to two more undefeated seasons. In 1949, he entered the business world at Avco Corporation, a defense and aerospace company, embarking on a career that would establish him in the vanguard of our nation’s business leaders. His early career included a stint at Westinghouse Electric Corporation, including a variety of assignments that involved design, development and marketing of major electrical appliances, and Mississippi Power and Light as a sales manager.
In 1959, he returned to Avco, ascending through the ranks during the next nine years as a vice president of the Missiles, Space and Electronics Group, and then vice president and general manager of the research and development division. His teams handled the design, development and production of the manned Apollo spacecraft and the payload reentry systems for the Atlas, Titan and Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles systems as well as other projects covering spacecraft communications, radar, oceanography, propulsion systems and medical research. His tenure at Avco allowed him to make significant contributions to U.S. security during the Cold War.
In 1968, Kenna became president of Fuqua Industries, a holding company with multiple subsidiaries. While at Fuqua, he led a major acquisition that increased the company’s sales by a multiple of six in just two years. In 1970, he joined Robert B. Anderson, Ltd., as the president and managing partner, leading the organization and its global financial and marketing services from their offices in New York, London and Rome.
In 1973, his impressive resume led him to the presidency of the National Association of Manufacturers, the nation’s top manufacturing association responsible for articulating policy for the manufacturing industry. While in this position, he founded the United States/USSR Trade and Economic Council.
In 1977, Kenna left the National Association of Manufacturers to become president of Carrier Corporation, the nation's leading manufacturer of air-conditioning, heating and refrigeration equipment. In 1981, he became a partner and a director at G.L. Ohrstrom & Co., a capital investment firm buying, organizing and developing companies on its own account. During Kenna’s tenure, Ohrstrom’s major companies included the New York Stock Exchange listed Dover Corporation, Carlisle Corporation and Roper Industries. Kenna served as chairman of the board of the Carlisle Corporation and Roper Industries.
Kenna’s many other board positions included the Phillips Petroleum Company, Investors Diversified Services, the L.S. Starett Corporation and Heritage Communications, Inc. He also served as the chairman of Vinnell Corporation, which handled the military and logistics training for the Saudi Arabian military in advance of the Gulf War.
He served as a trustee of Eisenhower College and Northeastern University; a member of the Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Foundation; chairman of the United Way campaign; chairman of the Hiawatha Boy Scout Council for Upstate New York; a trustee emeritus of the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy. He served two U.S. presidents as chairman of investigative committees. He received the Freedom Foundation Medal and the Gold Knight Award from the National Management Association.
Recognized for his many philanthropic efforts, he became one of the first individuals to endow an NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award, and he was a major benefactor at West Point, including the lead donation to build the Kenna Hall of Army Sports at the Kimsey Athletic Center.
Throughout his lifetime, he distinguished himself as the embodiment of the West Point motto of "Duty, Honor, Country.” As a soldier, athlete, industrialist and philanthropist, his outstanding leadership and integrity set a standard of performance and conduct against which future generations of West Point graduates will be measured.
Kenna is survived by his wife, Jean; son, Edgar Douglas Kenna III (Debi); daughter, Susan Cronk (Shanler) and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A Graveside Service will be held at the Lakewood Memorial Park, Jackson, Miss., Feb. 11, 2013 at 11:00 AM. A Memorial Service will be held at The United Military Academy at West Point, Highlands, NY, on May 13, 2013, at 1:30 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Lost Tree Chapel, 11149 Turtle Beach Rd., North Palm Beach, FL 33408.