Sarajane McKenney, 86, long time Albuquerque resident, passed away on Monday, July 22, 2019. She was born on Wednesday, March 29,1933 in Tamaqua, PA.; a small town in eastern Pennsylvania that was famous for coal mining and railroads, and infamous as the home of the Molly Maguires. Sarajane was born to Daniel Patrick Gallagher and Margaret Herman and shared an equal mix of their Irish and German heritages. When she was born, she was a "blue baby"— a baby with a blue complexion from lack of oxygen in the blood. She was the youngest of five, a scrappy little redhead whose father nicknamed her “Sassy".
She attended Saint Stanislaus Catholic School and then Lansdale High School. Whenever anyone asked her what year she graduated she would sing out, "We are nifty, we are thrifty, and we're the class of 1950!"
Sarajane had a number of jobs – She worked for a title company, a shirt company, and a candy company before she decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy. Sarajane headed off to Pensacola, FL. for basic training. When she had her official Navy photograph taken, she learned it had been quickly converted into a recruiting poster. She was drop-dead gorgeous in her uniform! Throughout her career, she was stationed at Naval Station Argentia in Newfoundland and Norfolk, VA.
After the Navy, Sarajane went back to Lansdale and worked for Philco Electronics. It was here that she met Jim McKenney who would become the love of her life; they married in 1962. Jim was a rising star in the up and coming field of computers. Sarajane and James had four children. They moved from Pennsylvania to Florida, Massachusetts, California, and they finally settled happily in Albuquerque.
While Jim was working for Raytheon, Fairchild, Honeywell, and eventually Sandia Labs — Sarajane was busy, too. In addition to raising the family, she ran a consignment shop, worked for Vans shoes, was a proofreader for a local newspaper and, in Albuquerque, landed a position with the Social Security Administration. That led her to the Department of Energy on Kirtland Air Force Base where she finished her career. She received many awards and accolades for her fine work throughout her career.
Upon retirement, she and Jim traveled around the country in their RV — in search of cool temperatures and hot slot machines. They loved to visit Laughlin and Las Vegas, NV and they took several trips to the east coast to visit family.
Sarajane's hobbies included refinishing antique furniture, collecting Fostoria Coin Glass, treasure hunting at thrift stores and yard sales, and doing crossword puzzles in ink; it never occurred to her that she might make a mistake. She was doing 'random acts of kindness' before the phrase was even coined! She always had a hard time convincing people that her name, Sarajane, was one word, and she does not have a middle name!
Sarajane is survived by her children; Allison Miller of Las Vegas, NV, Louise Marquez of El Paso, TX, and Vince McKenney and wife Marie of Rio Rancho, NM; fourteen grandchildren; twelve great-grandchildren; brother, Dan Gallagher and wife Joan of Harleysville, PA; along with numerous nieces, nephews and extended family members. She was preceded in death by her loving husband, Jim, in 2014; daughter, Leslie Harrison, also in 2014; her parents; two sisters; and one brother. She will be laid to rest at Santa Fe National Cemetery with Jim.
Memorial Service will take place on Saturday, August 24, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial, Museum & Conference Center, 1100 Louisiana SE, 87108.
The family would like to thank the staff at Mountain House Assisted Living, especially Mariah.
To send flowers to Sarajane's family, please visit our floral section.