FALMOUTH — Robert Mc-Kenney’s love for the ocean began when he was a child.

Growing up, Mr. McKenney spent summers at his family’s Cape Cod cottage and first sailed solo at age 8, his daughter Deborah Rose said.

“His mom caught him sailing across the bay one day,” she said. “He sailed by himself by attaching an umbrella to a rowboat.”

Mr. McKenney died Sunday. He was 85.

He enlisted in the Navy before he finished his senior year in high school and served in World War II and the Korean War.

Upon returning to the United States, Mr. McKenney settled in Bar Mills, where his father had purchased a farm. Mr. McKenney married his wife, Merna, and the family lived at the farm before Mr. McKenney’s apprenticeship as a steamfitter, his daughter said.

When he began working for Acme Engineering of Portland, the family relocated to Falmouth in a home Mr. McKenney built.

Before their fourth child was born, her father and mother purchased an old 30-foot Friendship sloop and restored it.

The sailboat was named Bonade, a combination of the first two letters of the names of each of his three children — Bob, Nancy and Deborah. When William McKenney was born, Rose said, the dinghy was named for him.

“We spent a lot of time in Casco Bay,” Rose said. “Every weekend in the summer, if it wasn’t raining.”

In addition to sailing, Mr. Mc-Kenney liked hunting and fishing. He also enjoyed family gatherings — from backyard cookouts and birthday celebrations to holidays, his daughter said.

Rose said her father and mother did everything together.

“My parents were truly attached at the hip. They didn’t do anything without each other, even groceries,” Rose said.

For a few years after his retirement, Mr. McKenney and his wife lived in Florida — they wanted to live in a warm place where they could enjoy the ocean, their daughter said.

“But they missed their family desperately,” she said, and returned to Falmouth about 15 years ago.

One of the most important things Mr. McKenney imparted on his children was a sense of honesty, his daughter said.

“He was honest as the day is long,” she said.


Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]