Joseph Vincent McKenna, 40, of Alexandria, VA, passed away of natural causes on May 3, 2023. He was born to Antoinette McKenna on November 4, 1982 in Alexandria, VA, where he was raised by his mother Antoinette, grandfather & grandmother, Rudolph & Jeannie Trefny, and step-father, Kiernan Corbett.
A lifelong Alexandrian, Joseph attended Heritage Academy, St. Rita’s Elementary School, and Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School. He studied music theory, liberal arts, and humanities at Northern Virginia Community College, and subsequently graduated from Strayer University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management. For most of his life, Joseph resided at historic Mt. Erin—the home itself celebrated a rich history of notable inhabitants.
On the eve of May, our world dimmed with the departure of one of its brightest lights. Language could never truly capture the essence of Joseph McKenna—these words offer only the barest sketch of his vibrance and warmth. We lost one of the very best of us.
Joseph possessed a poetic temperament, always making time to treasure the little joys of life—the soothing babble of water in a koi pond, the rhythmic hum of a tractor in a field of golden grass, the radiant glow of bonfire against the starry sky, or the soaring melody of songbirds in the chill morning air.
He adored his friends, his family, and his identical twin Edward—kindred spirits and constant companions from the very start. They shared an irreplaceable attachment, strong bond as well as an indelible identity often finishing each other’s sentences. This was especially true within their musicianship. Best friends, they uniquely shared life’s journey, together. Joseph spent the happiest days of his youth in the company of his loving grandfather, warmly known to everyone as “Ada.” His closest counselor and guardian angel, the connection between them was truly remarkable, and Ada’s loving support and mentorship over the years were instrumental in shaping the man he was. Fond memories were created on easygoing days spent with Edward and Nanette. They had a way of turning even the most mundane tasks, like a quick visit to the hardware store, into cherished all-day adventures. The trio made so may special memories together, from family vacations to holiday traditions. Through thick and thin, they remained by each other's side, supporting, loving, and caring for each other.
Joseph would often say he felt complete in the company of his loved ones; that the devotion of his family and closest friends filled him with an immense joy that never failed to brighten his day. His fondest memories, without a doubt, were the long days spent grooming the estate with his beloved grandfather, and the countless cookouts & brilliant bonfire nights spent with his brother Edward, his loving sister-in-law Nanette McKenna, and his closest friends Justin & Wynle Booth, and Joe & Maureen Combs.
So many who met Joseph felt they had a special connection with him. This was natural—whether he had known you for hours or decades, he had an effortless way of making you feel truly seen, truly special.
That said, no portrait of Joseph’s life would be complete without a mention of the special bond he shared with Justin Booth. Though not related by blood, he considered Justin every bit his brother—an honorary member of the family—and from childhood, Joseph, Edward, and Justin were an inseparable trio. Through laughter, tears, challenges, and triumphs, they supported each other, sharing in countless milestone memories along the way. Anyone who knows Justin knows a part of Joseph—their friendship will always be one for the ages.
Similarly, any portrayal of Joseph’s life would be incomplete without recounting his intense love of music. From an early age, he was captivated by sonic invention and experimentation. With Joseph on drums, his brother Edward on guitar, and lifelong friend Joe Combs on keyboards, much of his youth and beyond was spent exploring musical expression and innovation, in the process forging unbreakable bonds over a shared love for creation and sound.
Joseph truly enjoyed sharing his music with the world, both in-person and through social media, regularly posting clips for everyone to treasure. His music gave him a sense of purpose and provided him with an outlet for expression—the recordings he left behind will forever fill the hearts of family and friends with joy.
At work, Joseph poured his heart and soul into his affordable housing construction projects. Enthusiastic and energetic, his contributions transcended simple “project management.” Joseph truly loved his job, and considered it his calling to bring hope and happiness to those in need. He cherished meeting people from all walks of life and connecting with them on a meaningful level. He believed in reaching out to others and listening to their concerns; that understanding their needs was essential to building trust and finding solutions to any problem. His drive and dedication were infectious, and he knew how to motivate his team, encourage them to reach their highest potential, and create positive changes in the community. Joseph’s legacy will live on through his work and the countless lives he has positively influenced.
Outside of work, Joseph was a man who loved working with his hands and getting dirty. Whether he was tinkering with antique tractors, restoring old statues and fountains, toiling in the garden, or renovating his beloved new home, he was always on the move, dreaming big, and briming with ideas and inspiration. He loved nothing more than to sit with everyone and share all the plans and projects swirling around in his head. He could go on for hours, captivated by the tiniest details—the little things most people overlook.
A gifted story-teller and natural comedian, no social event felt complete until Joseph arrived. With a vibrant smile and a quick joke, he was the life of every gathering. His light-heartedness was contagious, and had the power to transform even the soberest scene into a full-blown comedy act.
There could never be another Joseph Vincent McKenna, but the world desperately needs more like him. For those of us who remain, Joseph would not want our hearts to be burdened with grief. He would want the tears to ebb, and for there to be laughter and joy again. We were fortunate to share in such a beautiful life—his spirit was luminous, and the warmth and radiance he left behind will always be felt. With every beat of a drum, in every purring tractor engine and scintilla of bonfire, in every sun-dappled meadow—we will feel his love.
Farewell, sweet soul. May you rest in peace knowing that the joy and light you left in our hearts will never diminish.
Joseph McKenna is survived by his identical twin brother, Edward McKenna, sister-in-law, Nanette McKenna, step-nephew, Gavin Newell, mother, Antoinette McKenna, stepfather, Kiernan Corbett, sister Genevieve “Nina” McKenna, and brother-in-law, Max Rickard.
Edward and Nanette are grateful to the many family members, friends, and colleagues who have expressed their condolences.
A viewing will be held at Everly Wheatley Funeral Home in Alexandria, VA on Monday, May 22nd from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. A funeral mass will take place at St. Rita's Catholic Church in Alexandria, VA on Tuesday, May 23rd at 11:30 a.m. The interment will be at Ivy Hill Cemetery on Tuesday, May 23rd at 2 p.m. All are welcome to a reception following the interment at Sheraton Suites Old Town Alexandria from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Flowers and condolences may be sent to Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home, 1500 W. Braddock Rd, Alexandria, VA 22302. Donations may be sent to Habitat for Humanity in Joseph's name.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joseph Vincent McKenna, please visit our floral store.