Zena Shenk Kearney (1910-1995) Collection (0906kc)
Zena Evelyn Shenk was born to Milo B. and Ethel M. Shenk on October 16, 1910, in Norborn, Missouri. The family soon moved to Kansas City, where she began piano lessons when she was three years old. Zena attended Manual High School, where she was a member of many academic and social groups, as well as ROTC. Throughout, she continued to perform and compete as a pianist and accompanist. Zena began teaching piano at age fourteen, and throughout her life, her students were like children of her own. From 1934 to 1943 she performed under her married name of Dicus and then returned to her maiden name until marrying Tom Kearney, who died in 1965.
In addition to teaching up to eighty pupils each week in her home and at Jenkins Music Company, Zena played organ in several restaurants in the area. She was also a fixture at Kansas City Athletics home games, NAIA basketball tournaments, and NCAA track and field championships. She was a member of the Kansas City Musical Club, American Guild of Organists, and musicians unions in Kansas City and Los Angeles. After her retirement, Zena traveled extensively, and in 1992, she moved to Denver and established the Zena Kearney Music Company. She recorded several tapes with a great-nephew and continued to perform for nursing homes and churches. Zena Shenk Kearney died on December 19, 1995, at the age of 85.
The collection contains straight runs of NAIA and Big 8 programs for the events for which Zena played organ. She also saved her passes, billing correspondence, and clippings. She kept extensive scrapbooks documenting her own career and activities, as well as the accomplishments of her students. There is a folder of correspondence and greeting cards and which also contains some other miscellaneous material. 1922-1993.
two cubic feet, twelve cassette tapes.
© State Historical Society of Missouri
Monday, February 07, 2011
State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center-Kansas City
(816) 235-1543 WHMCKC@umkc.edu