Stephen J. McKenna

January 3, 1960March 18, 2014

Captain Stephen Joseph McKenna of Westmoreland passed away on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at his home, his family at his side, after a long battle with cancer.

Steve was born in Boston, MA on January 3, 1960 to Joseph “Leo” McKenna and Florence (Gillis) McKenna, both from Prince Edward Island, Canada. After living in Boston through his early teens, Steve moved to New Hampshire, residing in Salem, Goffstown, Swanzey, and eventually Westmoreland, where he built a home in 2002. Steve attended Woodbury Junior High School and Salem High School, graduating in 1978. He married the love of his life, and high school sweetheart, Nancy E. (Girard) McKenna in 1985. After working as a mechanic at Dobles Chevrolet for many years, Steve changed careers to become a firefighter, which would turn out to be his true passion. Steve started as a volunteer firefighter in Goffstown, and started the job full-time in Keene in 1995, where he advanced to the rank of lieutenant. Changing to Salem Fire Department in 2003, Steve advanced through the ranks, from paramedic to lieutenant, station officer, and eventually Captain. Steve was also an eight year member of the Massachusetts Task Force 1 Urban Search & Rescue Team, the National Ski Patrol, and the NH Fire Academy, where he was a long time Sr. Instructor. More recently he worked part-time as the Technical Rescue Program Coordinator, enriching the lives of many students and firefighters throughout New England. He received many awards over the years, including: John T. Ayres Fire Instructor of the Year; FIOANH ( Fire Instructors & Officers Association of New Hampshire ) Life Member, in recognition of dedicated service; and the Class 2 Medal of Valor. He also recently received a Letter of Commendation from Gov. Maggie Hassan in recognition for his exemplary work with the Technical Rescue Training of hundreds of professional firefighters throughout NH. He was also the owner and operator of Critical Angle, a company specializing in the training of this specialized Technical Rescue. As an instructor, he traveled all across New England teaching this specialized skill.

His biggest accomplishments, however, are his two sons, who he was extremely proud of. Steve loved going to their soccer games and ski meets and watching them grow into young men. Steve was passionate about kayaking on Spofford Lake, going on cruises with friends in the Caribbean, and skiing with his sons in New Hampshire and Vermont. He also loved traveling to Prince Edward Island each summer to visit family and friends.

Survivors include Steve’s wife of 28 years, Nancy E. (Girard) McKenna, and sons Douglas S. and Daniel P. McKenna of Westmoreland; mother in law Eunice E. Girard and brother Michael Pouliot of Salem; brother in law and his wife Allan and Joan Girard of New Boston; brother in law and wife Russell and Nancy Girard of Hampstead; many family member and friends from Prince Edward Island, Canada; and the Salem Fire Department, and the brothers and sisters of the fire service, whose outpouring of support will not be forgotten. Steve is predeceased by his parents, Joseph and Florence McKenna.

Calling Hours will be held Monday, March 24, 2014, at the Fletcher Funeral Home, from 2:00 until 6:00 pm. A Liturgy of the Word will be held Tuesday, March 25, at 11:00 at St Bernard Catholic Church, 185 Main St, Keene. Burial will take place later in the spring in the family lot at the Village Cemetery in Westmoreland.

It has been requested, that memorial donations, can be made to the McKenna Children’s Trust, c/o Service Credit Union, 403 Winchester St, Keene, NH 03431.

Fletcher Funeral Home & Cremation Services ( ), 33 Marlboro St, Keene, NH 03431 has been entrusted with the arrangements.


  • Calling Hours Monday, March 24, 2014
  • Liturgy of the Word Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stephen J. McKenna

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Sharon Cockerton

April 17, 2014

My condolences to Nancy, Dan & Doug on the passing of Steve. He will be missed.

Kevin Breen

March 28, 2014

Good Morning, My name is Kevin Breen and I have the honor of serving as Chief of Salem Fire Department. It has been nearly one week since we received word that our brother, Captain Stephen J. McKenna was called home after a long arduous battle with cancer.

In the past couple of years and specifically, this past week, I have been reminded of why the fire service is so very special. The outpouring of support we have received from every corner of this state and the entire New England region has been nothing less than remarkable. On behalf of all Salem Firefighters and especially the McKenna family, we humbly thank you.

Of course, Stephen's many fire service affiliations and his natural ability to make long-lasting friendships is why he was respected and loved by so many. As a young man, Stephen J. McKenna graduated from Salem High School and married his high school sweetheart Nancy Girard. Before entering the fire service, Steve worked as an auto mechanic. He had a keen sense of figuring out how things work and more importantly, how to fix or tweak something that isn't working. This obviously was an important attribute for future success as a fire officer.

He began his fire service career in Goffstown, where he lived at the time, starting there as a call firefighter. He told Nancy that he wanted to change careers and thought he should take some classes that might help him in his desire to gain employment as a career firefighter. In 1995, Stephen was offered and accepted a position as a full-time firefighter right here in Keene. This opportunity led him and Nancy to first settle in Swanzey and then finally in Westmoreland, where he also served as a call firefighter. Stephen was promoted to Fire Lieutenant in Keene Fire Department before we coaxed him to join Salem Fire Department. And so, in 2003, Lieutenant Stephen McKenna started all over again as a probationary firefighter in Salem.

We joked back then about the distance of his commute between Westmoreland and Salem but he rationalized it telling us he spent so much time teaching at the New Hampshire Fire Academy that more often than not, he considered himself as already being halfway to Salem. Once settled at Salem Fire, he quickly climbed the ranks earning promotions to Fire Lieutenant, Station Officer and finally as a Fire Captain serving as shift commander of Group 2. Additionally, Stephen was very active as a Senior Fire Instructor at the New Hampshire Fire Academy serving as Technical Rescue Program Coordinator. He was also a proud member of Massachusetts Task Force 1, Urban Search and Rescue Team.

Stephen first learned he had cancer by a series of events that had him visiting many different doctors and hospitals. Of course, I recall with sadness the time Steve shared the news of his worsening condition and prognosis. We talked openly about his situation and he was consistently focused on his family and making sure they would be OK. These talks were always the hardest and he was steadfast in his resolve to do whatever he could to increase his remaining time with his wife Nancy and sons Douglas and Daniel. It was hardest for him when he could no longer work on shifts. You see, Stephen loved being a firefighter. He loved the job. He loved going to work and had a special relationship with all of his personnel.

A little more than three weeks ago, we met with Stephen as he was preparing to be discharged from Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital. He was eager to return to the comforts of his own home and to be with those he loved most. He spoke about wanting to just sit in his living room right next to his woodstove and to bask in its warmth.
Our collective presence today is a clear demonstration of the love we shared for Stephen McKenna. He touched so many lives serving as a firefighter, paramedic, fire officer, fire instructor, technical rescue specialist and of course as a husband, father, brother and dear friend to so many.

You see, Stephen McKenna was a source of warmth for all of us.

In closing, we pray that God will see us all through this time of sorrow and we will be comforted and forever bask in Steve's warmth, recalling the fond memories we have of this selfless public servant. God bless Stephen's family and all of you, as we say goodbye to our brother, as he will now enjoy eternal rest, and the rich rewards he surely earned, while serving his fellow man.

Kevin J. Breen
Chief of Department
Salem Fire Department

Mary McKenna Fitz

March 27, 2014

I do not know your family but we have two firefighters in the family. Also, my brother, Stephen Joseph McKenna, died a few years ago. Mu mother's name is Nancy McKenna. My uncle's name is Leo McKenna and my mom grew up on PEI. It feels like some strange connection. Our sympathy to all of your family.

Kevin Wilson

March 26, 2014

Dear Nancy and Family , I am very sorry to to here of Stephen's passing! I grew up with Stephen in Salem when he lived on Brown St. We were Best Friends for many years! I have many fond memories of Stephen!! I will always remember him as soft spoken and intelligent, and my best friend!! We lost touch after High School. I remember how exited he was every summer when the family would head up to P.E.I!! I only wish I knew he was working at the Salem Fire Department, As I would have loved to have seen him again! The last time I had seen Stephen,is when he was working at Dobles. Very sorry for your loss!! Kevin Wilson ( Methuen MA)

March 26, 2014

To Nancy and Family...

It has been a very long time since we all crossed paths in Goffstown, But Janice and I are so deeply sorry to hear about your loss! I know Steve was a wonderful Father and I knew him as the best mechanic anywhere. New Hampshire has lost a great public servant...and I'm sure a top notch firefighter. You are in our thoughts and prayers !

Tom and Janice Griffith
Greenland NH

Christine Gillis

March 25, 2014

My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family! So sorry for your loss!

Cathy Edmands

March 25, 2014

I worked with Steve for many years at Dobles, so sorry to hear of his passing, he was a really nice guy, my sympathy to all of his family and friends

Anne Bilodeau (Brooks)

March 25, 2014

My thoughts are with you. My mother & Steven's mother grew up together on PEI. I remember many childhood visits with Steven & his family. My prayers & sympathies on his passing.

March 25, 2014

Nancy- Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the boys. God Bless
Janet, Jeff, Britton and Casey Doig

Krystal Clark

March 24, 2014

Steve was a great mentor and instructor. He will be missed. Steve and his family will be in my prayers.