Irene Carson MacKenty


Irene Carson MacKenty of Edgartown died on Dec. 30, 2016, at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital at the age of 91. Her passing was caused by a sudden stroke complicated by the nine years that she endured Alzheimer’s disease with grace and dignity.

Irene is survived by her husband, John, and by their three sons, John (wife Huong), Michael (wife Lisa), and Edmund. She also leaves three grandchildren, Mary, Tom, and Lily. Besides her parents, her brother, Charles, predeceased her, as did four of her five Indiana cousins. Her cousin Mary Alice Ross survives her.

Irene was born in Foley, Ala., in 1925. She later moved back to Scipio, Ind., where many of her family had lived for generations. In 1953, after joining the U.S. Civil Service, she moved to Heidelberg, Germany, where she met John in early 1956 when he was stationed in the Army. They were married in Heidelberg in August 1956, just before John’s Army term expired, and thereafter enjoyed 60 years of a very happy marriage together.

Irene and John first lived in Brooklyn for two years, then moved to Scarsdale, N.Y., and lived there for nearly 30 years. In addition to keeping up with three active boys, Irene was very involved in the Scarsdale Women’s Club as an officer of its Junior Section, and later as chair of the Travel Section. She helped found the Greenville Community Reformed Church’s nursery school, and was active in the church’s guild. She also was a volunteer for Children’s Village and the Edgemont PTA.

When her home needed additional space for her expanding family, Irene, though not an architect, designed the necessary addition, using children’s blocks as a guide. Implemented by an architect, her floor plan was featured in an issue of House Beautiful magazine, with a picture of the addition shown on its cover. Later, she and John also designed their Vineyard home while traveling to and from the Island on Route 95 over a two-year period. Its construction was accomplished without an architect’s assistance, as Irene’s plans and sketches were sufficient for the builder. She and John moved full-time to the Vineyard in 1987.

After they moved to the Vineyard, Irene became active in the Unity Club of the Federated Church, serving as its treasurer. She was also a member of the Vineyard chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Edgartown Women’s Club, and the Edgartown Yacht Club.

Irene was devoted to her family. A loving and caring mother, she dedicated herself to bringing up her sons. Her home was also a welcoming place for their friends. On the Vineyard, she enjoyed the frequent visits of her grandchildren, and saw them grow into adulthood. Warm and outgoing, Irene made numerous friends and hosted many grand parties over the years in both of their homes. Family dinners and larger parties always benefited from Irene’s great cooking and outgoing personality. Her sweet disposition stayed with her throughout her long ordeal with Alzheimer’s, and charmed everyone who came in contact with her.

In addition to her devotion to her family, once her youngest son was in high school, Irene’s love of travel led her to work as a travel agent for nearly 30 years, and to organize many trips for friends and groups. John and Irene traveled to many places, including Europe, St. Petersburg, the Black Sea, Australia, the Caribbean, South America, and New Zealand. Some memorable family trips included driving a motor home with their three teenage sons out West, and chartering houseboats on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain.

A graveside service is planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Irene C. and John E. MacKenty ’46 Observatory and Science Center Fund at the Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH 03833, or the Endowment Fund of the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, P.O. Box 5227, Edgartown, MA 02539, would be appreciated. Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Oak Bluffs.