Palmyra was born in Stockton, California on October 4, 1932 and was the only child of Attilio Prato and Enrichetta Erba. The family lived in Linden, CA where her parents owned a fruit and vegetable farm with her Uncle Tom and Aunt Alice Prato. She grew up with an extended family in the Linden area. She escaped the summer heat of the central valley by visiting her aunts and cousins in the Santa Cruz area. A tradition she continued with her own family every year.
She attended grammar school at Chartville Elementary School in Linden and attended high school at St. Mary’s in Stockton. She completed her education at Dominican College in San Rafael, CA where she earned degrees in Mathematics and English in 1954. She received a teaching credential from Dominican in 1955.
In 1954, Palmyra met the love of her life, James (Jim) McKenna, on a blind date to an ICF (Italian Catholic Federation) dance in Sonoma. They married in 1955 in Linden, CA and celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary in 2016 prior to Jim’s death.
Jim and Palmyra started married life in Paradise, CA where Jim finished his education at Chico State and Palmyra taught eighth grade math. They first moved to Sonoma in 1961 and moved to Walnut Creek in 1968 where Jim realized his lifelong dream of opening his own machine shop, McKenna Products, Inc. In addition to a full time job as “mom” to seven children, Palmyra worked with Jim in the business as office manager. She returned to school to learn accounting to gain an understanding of the financial side of the business.
In 1999, they retired in Sonoma and enjoyed being close to Jim’s siblings, sisters Eileen McKenna, Ann Loftus and Mary Carroll as well as his brother John and sister-in law Sue McKenna. In addition to her McKenna siblings, Palmyra is survived by her sister and brother of the heart, Jeanette and Thomas (Barbara) Prato.
She will be dearly missed by her loving children: Kathleen, Eileen (Sam), Maurice (Vicki), Maureen, Angela, Jimmy and Franceen (Steve) as well as her 16 grandchildren: Clinton, Morgan, Kaelin, Mary, James, Ryan, Haley, Andrew, Hanna, Christopher, Michael, Rohan, Quinn, Jack, Kellen and McKenna.
Palmyra loved baseball, especially the Oakland A’s, and was known to bet on them with her grandson Jack (who always bet on the Giants!) In retirement, she continued to expand her knowledge by taking a variety of classes at the Vintage House. Her interests ranged from computer classes to laughing yoga and everything in between. One of the highlights of her day was solving the daily crossword puzzle with her sister-in-law, Eileen. Her more recent passions were watching game shows and Hallmark movies on television, playing games and solving puzzles on her computer, and going out to lunch. She loved the dining out experience, especially dessert, and spent many memorable meals with her friends and family.
She had a deep faith and was a long time member of both St. John Vianney (Walnut Creek) and St. Francis Solano (Sonoma) parishes. Palmyra exemplified her faith by living her life as a kind, compassionate, charitable, generous and non-judgmental person. She made the world a better place and all that knew and loved her were fortunate to have her in their lives.
A Celebration of Life will take place in Sonoma, CA on July 14th and 15th. A Rosary Service at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 at Duggan’s Mission Chapel, 525 West Napa Street. The Funeral Mass on Thursday, July 15, 2021, is at 12:30 p.m. at St. Francis Solano Church, 469 Third Street West. Burial will follow the Mass, at Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery (126 1st Street West). Reception following the services at The Lodge (Stone Building) located at 1325 Broadway.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations in her memory be made to the charity of your choice or those she supported:
PO Box 302, Maryknoll, NY 10545
St. Vincent de Paul – St Francis Solano Church
469 3rd Street East, Sonoma, CA 95476
Little People of America
617 Broadway #518, Sonoma, CA 95476
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