BUILDERS OF TORTOLA
Warren H. McKenna (1918-2011)
Warren H. McKenna died in his sleep on March 3, 2011, in Berkeley, California, at the age of 93. He had lived in Apple Bay, Tortola, for 30+ years.
Before moving in 1968 to Tortola with his wife Elizabeth, Warren had graduated from the Episcopal Theology School to become an Episcopal minister, and he served as rector in several churches in the US and the UK.
A self-proclaimed radical and Freedom Fighter, he participated in Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964. He took on the responsibilities of Associate Director of the Delta Ministry in Greenville, Mississippi, to promote voter registration and integration with Martin Luther King. After Dr. King’s assassination, Warren learned that Sebastians Hotel in the BVI needed a manager. He happily filled that role for several years while building vacation homes and his own home in Apple Bay—at a time when there was no electricity, phones and the only roads on the island were donkey trails.
He built and opened Skyworld, one of the first gourmet restaurants on the island. Iona, his chef, and Sonny, his barkeep/manager, later founded Palms Delight restaurant in Carrot Bay, where Warren’s and Iona’s original recipe for ginger wine chicken remains a favorite with tourists and residents.
Warren’s straightforward nature, enthusiasm and dry sense of humor helped build solid friendships in the BVI and encouraged us who knew him to remember him with fondness and respect. When he knew he had a short time left to live, he said, “Well, I’m gonna to miss you.” He asked his old friend, Rims Barber, a longtime visitor to Tortola, former Freedom Fighter and minister, to do the memorial service.
“Sorry,” Warren said with a mischeivous grin, “that I can’t give you a date yet.” That was Warren, laughing as he left this world.
He will be missed by his wife of 66 years, Elizabeth, his daughter Leslie Easterday and her husband Michael, and grandchildren Nicholas Easterday and Julie Stockton and her husband Ryan. His son Paul McKenna preceded him in death.
From The BVI Beacon, Thursday April 28th, 2011: 29
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