Rosa Lee McKennie was born on December 21, 1919, in Demopolis, Alabama. She was born to proud parents Henry Mack Sr. and Hester Mack. Both Henry and Hester were business savvy farm owners and were some of the hardest workers in the city. They instilled these same qualities within their several children. Rosa was the eldest of her siblings, Clarence Mack, Della Brown, Catherine Hearn, Henry Mack Jr. James Mack, and OC Mack. As a youth, Rosa spent her years working on the farm, picking cotton, herding animals, and harvesting crops. Rosa also contributed to the family's beautician business.
In 1937, Rosa married Clifford Jones and their union was blessed with four children, Cleveland Jones, Betty Lee Wilson, Queen Esther Johnson, and Clifford Jones Jr. Clifford Jones was stationed in San Diego, which resulted in the family relocating to California around 1948.
Once in California, Rosa became a nurse, and worked at various hospitals around the city of San Diego. In the late 1950s, Rosa and Clifford divorced, but still remained good friends and equally provided for their children. In 1958, she met and married her late husband John McKennie. Rosa was a hard-working businesswoman and opened multiple lucrative businesses throughout her lifetime. She owned three different bars, The Bucket of Blood, The Kit Kat, and The Dolphin Inn. She operated these businesses from 1961 to 1996. Rosa was also a foster parent from 1968 until the late ’90s. She raised and mentored at least 60 children, along with providing and taking care of her entire family up until the time she passed. For this reason, she was known as the Warden, because of the way she kept her family together.
During their time together, Rosa and John enjoyed traveling, spending time with their friends, and gambling. They also enjoyed taking their grandchildren fishing at Salton Sea, El Centro, and in Yuma, Arizona. Rosa was an expert fisherman, she often out fished everyone on the trip. Her favorite fish to catch and eat was Bluegill and Catfish.
Rosa, also known as “Gram”, was an avid card player. Once a week she got together with friends and family and played “Pitty Pat” until the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes these games lasted for up to 3 days. These games consisted of old lady’s with 38’s tucked in their bras because sometimes it would get intense. Grams house was known as the casino before casinos became popular. In 1977, Rosa and John moved from Trinidad Way to South 50th street where they continued the card game tradition throughout the years to come.
In their later years, you could find them at any local casino hitting the slot machines. Rosa recently celebrated her 100th birthday with her family at the Casino.
On January 22, 2020, at 8:30 AM, Rosa McKennie was called home to be with her husband John Mckennie along with her four children. Rosa will always be remembered for her strength, her kind heart, and her giving spirit. Rosa has built a legacy that will span generations.
She is preceded in death by her first husband, Clifford Jones; Her late husband, John Mckennie; Children, Cleveland Jones, Betty Lee Wilson, Queen Esther Johnson, and Clifford Jones Jr; Brothers, Henry Mack Jr., James Mack, and OC Mack; Niece, Dorothy Mack, and Great-Granddaughter Tamiko Nicole Wilson.
Rosa is survived by her brother, Clarence Mack and, sisters, Catherine Hearns and Della Brown; Daughter in Law, Marilyn Jones; Grandchildren, Melvin Thornton, Terrell Wilson, Jessie Wilson, Tyler Wilson, Cleveland Jones Jr., Fredrick Glenn Johnson, Michelle Moore, Patrick Turner, Carol Kye, Venita Ray, Dawn Wilson, Faith Gilliam,and Venetia Thornton; Nephew Albert Berry Jr; Great-Nieces LaRonda Holiday, La’Donna Rembert.
Monique Alexander, Marquise Jefferson, Khalilah Douglas, Jaleel Thornton, Jamal Thornton, Bryson Thornton, Javone Raimey, Quentera Tucker, Dedranae Tucker, Mariah McBride, Ja’Mia Moore, Olajawon Wilson, Rashid Wilson, Damazale Wilson, Jessameen Wilson, Kemakeo Wilson, Siwanna Grant, Briana Carpenter, Tylea Atkinson, Aryanna Wilson, Sophia Wilson, Davone Johnson, Deandre Johnson, Deshion Johnson, James Johnson, Lelarose Johnson, Kaylahmarie Johnson, Calvin Turner, Athena Turner, Deshire Turner, Lisa Turner, 2’Nybri Turner, Lanisha Turner, Kiandria Turner, Kemuel Turner, Marvin Turner.
Malik Alexander, Marvin Alexander III, Najla Coffman, Sariah Douglas, Kaylyn Douglas, Jayla Thornton, Thomas Wright, Taya Hunt, Tyson and Tyler Hunt, Teilani Wright, Rayla Carpenter, Stella Atkinson, Lola Atkinson, Castiel Wilson, K-Ci Johnson, Abigail Johnson, Maddex Johnson, Malea Raimey, Ariana Raimey, Josiah Raimey, Saniyha Williams, Harmony Jones, Osyis Wilson, Shaydan Wilson, O’shae Wilson.
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