David S. Jenney, 87

Mar 25, 2019
David S. Jenney, 87, of Mattapoisett, passed away peacefully at home on March 22. He was the son of Winfield and Margaret Jenney, stepson to Ruth Souza and beloved husband of Janet Jenney of Mattapoisett. 

David was raised in Mattapoisett and was the valedictorian of the Fairhaven High School Class of '49. David graduated from Worcester Polytechnical Institute in 1953 with a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering and many honors including Tau Beta PI, Skull, Sigma XI and the A.T.O. District award. He immediately began his 40 year career at Sikorsky Aircraft, first at the United Technologies Research Labs and later transferring to Sikorsky Aircraft’s development and production facility in Stratford. David retired from Sikorsky in 1993 as the Director of Technical Engineering and during his retirement celebration was referred to as the “father of the Black Hawk Helicopter” due to his work designing new airfoils, vibration dampening and the revolutionary canted tail rotor which were all incorporated into the Black Hawk’s design. After leaving Sikorsky, David and Janet retired to their dream home in lovely Mattapoisett. 

David was a strong believer in continuing education, and took night classes while working full time at Sikorsky. He eventually obtained his Masters of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Connecticut and his PhD in Mechanics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

David’s outstanding professional contributions during his career were recognized by several schools and organizations. He was inducted into the Fairhaven High School Hall of Fame in 2011, received the Worcester Polytechnical Institute Robert H. Goddard Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement, and was awarded the Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship for his distinguished career in vertical flight aircraft research and development. David was also a contributor to and held several patents for technical advancements in helicopter design. 

David met the love of his life, Janet, while racing Herreshoff-12 sailboats on Buzzards Bay. Their lifelong love for the water and sailing brought them together first as racing opponents, then racing partners, and finally as husband and wife in 1953. Throughout their 65 years of marriage, their love for each other was deep, pure, and inspiring to their family and friends.

David and Jan raised three children in Stratford, where David worked, but spent every summer in Mattapoisett. The family summers were filled with sailing and racing their Beetle Cat or Herreshoff-12, where David was known for his excellence at the starting line. This talent resulted in numerous sailing trophies from races in Mattapoisett and throughout Buzzards Bay. David also served as a multi-term Commodore of the Mattapoisett Yacht Club.
In addition to sailing, David was an avid runner and known throughout the towns he lived for running every day, no matter the weather. He started his running career in 1971 at the age of 40 when he entered the first of many Fourth of July Mattapoisett 5-mile road races. He did so well in that race that it inspired him to take up the sport and ran the five mile annually until he stopped running at the age of 80. David ran in nineteen marathons, including six Boston Marathons, two New York, and two abroad.
David and Jan were very active in their Congregational churches in both towns where they lived. Together with Jan, David enjoyed music and were loyal members of the church choir and active in many church groups and committees. David was also a member of the Tri-County Choral Society. 

David was a dedicated Eagle Scout, and as an adult, was engaged in Explorer Scouts. He was also involved in organizations such as the Couples Club, Interfaith Council, Mattapoisett Yacht Club, Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee, Cleveland Ledge Associates and was the editor for the American Helicopter Society Magazine International for several years. David believed strongly in giving to the community and sponsored many children across the world as part of Plan International USA, and volunteered his time doing taxes for the elderly in local towns. In 2009, David was awarded the Wanderer Keel Award for his many contributions to the local community. 

Of all of the achievements in his life, the one he was most proud of was being a loving husband, father and grandfather. His family was the center of his world and he did not take that for granted, but took time to enjoy life with them. He was a child at heart and enjoyed countless hours of family time sailing and windsurfing on Buzzards Bay, swimming at Crescent Beach, hiking and camping on Strawberry Point.

David is survived by his wife, Janet Jenney of Mattapoisett, his three children Laurel Carlson of North Attleboro, Faith Ball of Mattapoisett, John Jenney and his wife Diana of Southbury CT, his four grandchildren, Catherine and Samantha Ball of Mattapoisett and Spencer Jenney of Southbury CT, Ashley Ghent and great-grandchild Jonathan Nuniez of Stratford CT.

He was predeceased by his sisters Judith (Jenney) Gurney of Marion and Martha (Jenney) Gifford of Rochestser. 

His visiting hours will be held on Friday March 29 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home for Funerals, 50 County Rd., Route 6, Mattapoisett. His funeral service will be held on Saturday March 30 at 10 a.m. at the Mattapoisett Congregational Church. Burial will follow at the Pine Island Cemetery in Mattapoisett.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in his name to the Mattapoisett Congregational Church, P.O. Box 284, Mattapoisett MA 02739 or to Plan International USA ,155 Plan Way, Warwick RI 02886 USA https://www.planusa.org. For directions and guestbook, please visit www.saundersdwyer.com.