Bessie L. McKenny was born to the union of Eldora and Walter Valliant on July 25, 1939 in Woodland, Mississippi. She was the youngest of three children. Both parents preceded her in death, and her brother Walter Valliant, Jr.
Bessie attended Mary Holmes College in West Point, Mississippi. Bessie moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1956. She met and married Ruben J. McKenny, and to this union was born one child Ruben Terrel McKenny. Bessie was a woman before her time, a black woman entrepreneur, owner of an automotive body shop, and car sales. She also served as an assistant secretary at Berkeley High School as well as a teacher’s aide.
Bessie McKenny united with Westside Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Moses Javis. She later became a member of Shalom Church City of Peace under the leadership of Rev. Dr. F. James Clark. Bessie served on the Mother’s Ministry, was instrumental in providing resources in food and clothing that ultimately led to the Shalom Church Food Pantry. She was part of the New Members and Evangelism Ministries.
Mother McKenny was highly impactful in her family, church, and community and will be greatly missed.
She leaves to cherish her memory: her sister, Julie Posley; son, Ruben Terrel (Jessica) McKenny; grandchildren, Paris, Justin, Jaquese, Jayla (Chance), Jamar, Ruben, Jasmin and Jaysa; and a host of nieces, nephews, and friends.
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