Matthias Francis “Matt” Fennell Sr., 92, formerly of Elmira, N.Y., died peacefully on December 4, 2020, at his El Paso, Texas, home surrounded by loving and devoted family.
An Elmira native, Fennell was the son of Matthias and Catherine (Shields) Fennell. He attended Elmira Catholic schools and served with the U.S. Army in Japan, attaining the rank of Corporal.
He graduated from the University of Scranton in 1952 and worked for Westinghouse Electric Corporation, eventually managing its Horseheads, N.Y., manufacturing facility.
In 1977, Fennell moved with his wife Ann and their 10 children to El Paso, where he opened the corporation’s first assembly plant, Componentes de Iluminacion, in Juárez, Mexico.
In that role, he became a trusted advisor to young managers, engineers, and fellow Juárez plant managers until his retirement in 1994.
Fennell was a man of strong faith, devoted to his church, his family, and his wife of 64 years, Ann (McLaughlin).
His sense of humor and self-assurance helped him amass a wide and multigenerational circle of friends with whom he shared his love of books, music, and sports, especially golf and the New York Giants.
Fennell had a life-long passion for Ireland, his father’s birthplace
In Elmira, he was active in the Catholic school system and was a charter member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbus.
As a young man he was active in the local Democratic party; and as a retiree he campaigned to protect West El Paso’s arroyos from development.
While Fennell lived in El Paso for more than 40 years, his attachment to Elmira never waned. When his children were young, he would pilot the family station wagon cross-country each summer to visit family and friends.
In addition to his wife, Fennell is survived by their children, Ann Simmons of El Paso; Molly (Bill) Manchenton of Lowell, MA.; Matt Jr. (Carla) of Plano, TX; Julie (David) Smykowski of Elmhurst, IL.; Sheila (Frank) Castellano of Colorado Springs, CO; Tim (Alicia), Kate Carlson, Terrence (Adriana), and Ellen (Raul) Ordaz, all of El Paso; and Alice (Aksorn) Hongthong of Malverne, NY. Also, brother, J. Peter Fennell, and sister Kathleen “Sis” Fennell, both of Elmira; and 17 grandchildren.
Also, in-laws Maynard and Marilyn McLaughlin of Shoreham, VT; Sheila Reeder of Quakerstown, NJ, Richard Bassney of Rochester, NY, and Elizabeth Dolan of Sayre, PA, as well as dear friends Albert Beckman of Santa Teresa, NM; David and Hannah D’Ottavio of El Paso; and Casey Key of FL.
Preceding him in death are his son-in-law, William Simmons; and in-laws, Susan Fennell, Daniel and Cathy McLaughlin, Richard Reeder, Catherine Bassney, Alice McLaughlin, and James Dolan.
Contributions in his memory can be made to Hospice of El Paso and Queen of Peace Catholic Church.