Jerome Kenagy, a longtime resident of Reedsport, passed away peacefully at home at the age of 83 on January 31, 2018, with his family by his side. Jerome was born to parents Ivan E. and Edna (Roth) Kenagy in Albany, Oregon, on November 2, 1934.
A man of deep faith and great generosity, Jerome loved language and ideas. He was a gifted writer and a published poet, with an astonishing memory and the ability to distill complex and broad-ranging ideas into a cohesive whole. Informed by his love of history and avid language study, he traveled to more than 40 different countries and all 50 states. Jerome was absolutely committed to serving God through all his resources, and his enthusiastic hymn singing is legendary. He was also unswervingly loyal to his family and his friends and served as the glue that held several groups of friends together for many decades.
Jerome's first view of the wider world came in 1947 when his father took a one-year position with the U.S. Postal Service in Panama. After returning home and graduating from Albany High School with the Class of 1952, Jerome moved on to Seattle Pacific College to study history and political science, also serving as his class president, winning a national debate championship, and making lifelong friendships. Soon after his college graduation in 1956 and before he could be drafted, Jerome enlisted in the Army and was accepted to Army Language School at the Presidio of Monterey to study Russian. He graduated at the top of his class and was assigned to the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade, Maryland.
After his discharge, Jerome returned to Seattle and in 1961 married his wife Donna (Schneiter) in her hometown of Chewelah, Washington. In 1962 the newlyweds moved to Heidelberg, Germany, where Donna taught in an Army Dependent's School and Jerome studied German at Heidelberg University. They traveled extensively throughout Europe during those years in a postwar VW bug and old canvas tent, often with various family members and dear friends from college.
In 1964 they returned to Seattle where Jerome became Assistant Alumni Director and Editor of Publications at Seattle Pacific College. Daughter Kristen was born in 1965 and son Dan followed in 1968. In 1969 the family moved to Eugene, Oregon, so Jerome could study toward his master's degree in journalism, and in 1970 they moved again to Reedsport, Oregon, to purchase KDUN, a small daytime radio station with Jerome's brother Steve.
As KDUN's general manager, Jerome threw himself into community events, reporting on school and city meetings, doing home and away play-by-play for all high school sporting events, and writing insightful and sometimes searing editorials when he felt they were needed. Jerome's ability to understand the essence of an issue and write about it clearly and compellingly helped to soothe community controversies and bring opposing sides back into dialogue on more than one occasion.
During the 1980s, Jerome and Steve, joined by their younger brother John and friend Wes Lockard, launched Custom Business Systems, Inc., commonly known as CBSI, a company that provided software solutions for radio stations. Born out of Wes's homegrown answer to KDUN's own traffic and billing needs, the company grew into the largest supplier of radio business software in the world. Jerome and his partners worked hard to create and model business practices of integrity, honor, accountability, and care for clients and employees. Many in both groups can attest to Jerome's great generosity and compassion on numerous occasions in their lives.
In 1999, Jerome and his business partners received Seattle Pacific University's Medallion Award for excellence in their field of work and outstanding service to the university. He also served on the boards of the Reedsport Church of God; Bridge Builders, International; and Quality Schools International, three organizations whose mission he fully supported and avidly followed.
Jerome retired in 2000 with the sale of CBSI, and he and Donna continued to travel widely, welcoming more than 150 friends and relatives to their chalet in the Swiss Alps from 2001 to 2008. Though his eventual diagnosis of Progressive Supranuclear Palsey in 2002 gradually began to slow him down, Jerome continued to take an active interest in the world and those he loved.
He is survived by his wife, Donna; daughter Kristen (Jost) Zetzsche; son Dan Kenagy; grandchildren Hannes, Lara, and Anna Zetzsche; sister Lorli (John) Stephens; and brothers Steve (Cindy) and John (Judie) Kenagy.
A celebration of life will be held at Pacific Auditorium in Reedsport, Oregon, on Saturday, March 24, at 1:00pm. Donations in memory of Jerome may be made to Project Blessing Food Pantry in Reedsport or Bridge Builders, International (bridgebuildersint.com).