Patrick J. Kenney Jr. had faced serious physical challenges in the past few years, though overcoming the series of strokes that began when he was 37 gave him a renewed appreciation of life, his family wrote in a tribute posted on a funeral home website.
“After the strokes I really think he appreciated things and felt like he had a second chance,’’ his mother, Donna, said in the tribute.
A former football player for Boston College High School and the University of Maine, Mr. Kenney brought emotional strength and resolve to his rehabilitation efforts, his family wrote, and then he experienced “the greatest blessings of his life” in 2021 when his twin children, Ava and Patrick III, were born.
“It all seemed like a miracle,” his father, Patrick Sr., said in the family tribute. “He had gone from the depths of suffering strokes to the highest of highs as a father whose life was even more joyous than he had dared to imagine.”
Mr. Kenney, who his family said had worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency on disaster relief efforts, died Saturday in an apparent accident in the parking lot of the Kowloon restaurant in Saugus. He was 42 and lived in Milton.
“He was a great father,” his wife, Lauren, said for the family tribute. “I feel like he wanted to live life to the fullest after that because he knew tomorrow wasn’t promised.”
Born in Boston in 1981, Mr. Kenney grew up in Milton, a son of Donna Kenney and Patrick Kenney Sr.
At Boston College High School, Mr. Kenney played hockey, lacrosse, and football — including various positions for the offensive and defensive squads. His family said a post-graduate year at the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Gill led to Mr. Kenney being recruited by the University of Maine, where he helped out with coaching chores after an injury left him unable to play in his senior year.
Mr. Kenney “approached life the way he played football — full speed ahead with fierce determination and infectious joy in life that he shared with family, friends, teammates, and coworkers,” his family wrote in the tribute, posted on the website of the Alfred D. Thomas Funeral Home in Milton, where visiting hours will be held Friday from 4 to 8 p.m.
At FEMA, they wrote, he put in workdays that stretched beyond 12 hours while serving “on the front lines managing a variety of disasters from Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey to storms in Puerto Rico helping people put their lives back together.”
Mr. Kenney’s “outgoing nature and ease with all kinds of people enabled him to work cooperatively with state, local, and federal authorities to bring urgently needed relief to people suffering devastating losses. His desire to help others was a natural instinct,” his family wrote. “Throughout his life he was there to help his multitude of friends as well as family members.”
He also had been childhood friends with Boston Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, who died battling a fire in Boston’s Back Bay in 2014, Patrick Sr. told the Patriot Ledger in 2014. He said the two attended summer camp together.
To recuperate from the series of strokes Mr. Kenney had suffered, he engaged in “arduous rehabilitation work,” according to his family, and worked to exceed goals he set for rehab sessions.
And then on Saturday, after 9 p.m., Mr. Kenney was found in the Kowloon restaurant parking lot with a knife wound. He died in Massachusetts General Hospital a short time later, according to Essex District Attorney Paul F. Tucker’s office, which added that the “incident appears to be accidental and no additional parties are believed to be involved.”
“Our family is mourning the loss of Patrick, focused on his wife Lauren and two young children, and trying to make sense of this horrific tragedy,” Mr. Kenney’s family said in a statement after he died. “Patrick was a loving father and husband, brother, son and loyal friend to many.”
The Wong family, which owns Kowloon, said in a statement to WCVB-TV that their “thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family. Nothing else matters at this time. We ask that people don’t jump to conclusions until an investigation is completed.”
Liz Boucher, the sister of Kenney’s wife, has launched a GoFundMe campaign for the family.
“Pat was not just a loving father; he was also Lauren’s best friend and confidant,” the campaign said. “His sudden absence has created a void that words cannot fill. As we navigate this challenging time, our main focus is ensuring that the children receive the support necessary to navigate their daily lives amid these newfound challenges.”
In addition to his wife, children, and parents, Mr. Kenney leaves his brother Matthew.
A funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Elizabeth Church in Milton. Burial will be in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Dorchester.
“He set a great example for me, the type of family man that he was, the type of friend,” Mr. Kenney’s brother, Matthew, said for the family tribute. “Those are all things that I now strive to be.”
Close to his parents his whole life, Mr. Kenney “was a great father and he was a great son, but he was more than that — we were friends,” his father said in the tribute.
“The last thing I said to him was, ‘I love you,’” Mr. Kenney’s mother, Donna, recalled, “which means a lot to me.”
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.