Published in The Washington Post on Apr. 14, 2019
IDA JO MCKENNEY
Grigg McKenney (Age 92) Born and raised in Northeast
Washington, Ida Jo was a teen Red Cross volunteer in
World War II, sending cheer packages to soldiers, marching
and learning to set up emergency canteens in case
Washington was attacked; a young social worker in
Baltimore, and a Learning Disabilities teacher, most
recently at the Freedom Hills Elementary School in Fairfax
County, VA., in the 70's and 80's, while living in
A life-time of Civil Rights activism was sparked when as a teen she joined the 75,000 who heard
Marian Anderson sing at the Lincoln Memorial, when she was not able to appear at Constitution
Hall. In the Civil Rights Era that followed, she headed south with Quaker groups to help newly
enfranchised blacks register and vote. She risked imprisonment demonstrating on the Capitol
steps, which was illegal at the time, and joined Anglican and Episcopal groups in a peace
march from London to Canterbury, the headquarters of the Anglican communion. None of this
kept her from eventually joining the DAR, taking an interest in her French, English and Southern
roots, and having close friendships with many conservatives, including her second husband,
Gervys R. Beckett, a Pacific WWII veteran.
He and her first husband, Dr. John L. McKenney, predeceased.
She was an alumna of McKinley Tech High School (1944), George Washington University,
Ohio Wesleyan and Ohio State, and the Universities of Texas and Arkansas, obtaining degrees
in religion and education.
She leaves two daughters, Alice McKenney and Claire Bolden, both of Ohio, where she died in
Zanesville April 5, 2019; two brothers, Robert and William Grigg of Bethesda and Chevy Chase,
five grandchildren, and many great-grand- and great-great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at St. James Episcopal Church, Zanesville, OH, April 16. Her
body was deeded to Ohio Univeriity medical school. She will then be buried in Mt. Rest
Cemetery, La Plata, MD.