Francis “Donald” Tinneny

Photo Courtesy of Betty Tinneny

Donald died in his home with all of his family around him on July 23, 2005. He was the sixth son and ninth child of James J. Tinneny and Gertrude Ann Spence.  He was born at the Roxborough Memorial Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 31, 1928.  His godparents were his father's nephew, Francis Sickinger and his father's sister Margaret Tinneny McKenna. Don was the grandson of Yankee Pat Tinneny of Goladuff, Newtownbutler. County Fermanagh, Ireland. 

When it came time for him to start school, unlike his older brothers and sisters who all attended Catholic school, Donald was sent to Levering Public School in Roxborough.  In his words he "hated going to Levering School because it wasn't a Catholic School."  As a result he spent very little time there.  Many days he would walk to the school in the morning then turn around and walk home and tell his mother that the gates to the schoolyard were locked and that the school was closed.  When it came time for Donald to go into the second grade, after a year at Levering School, his parents gave in to his request to go to Catholic school.  When they went to enroll him in Saint John the Baptist School the nuns quickly assessed him and found that he would be best served by repeating the first grade since he had missed so much the year before.  He subsequently completed twelve years, both his elementary and secondary education, at Saint John The Baptist Catholic School.  Throughout those twelve years he also served as an alter boy at Saint John's Church. 

Don graduated from high school June 1947.  He got a job as a stock-boy with Sears and Roebuck Company for three or four months then he was laid off. His brother Bruce who was working at the Asher Candy Factory in Philadelphia got him a job there.  Bruce's job was quite easy and consisted of rolling trays of candy to the girls who then covered the candy with chocolate.  Donald on the other hand was not so lucky.  Although he was short and slim he was assigned the job of lifting 50-pound sacks of sugar, opening them and dumping them into huge mixers.  That was very tough for him to do since he could barely see over the top of the sacks of sugar.  After a couple of weeks he decided to separate the sugar into to 25-pound portions then loading it into the mixers.  The adjustment made the job easier but upset his boss at first.  The boss who was about 6 feet 4 inches tall just couldn't seem to understand how Donald would have difficulty handling the sacks of sugar. 

Throughout the two months that he worked for Asher Candy he complained about the job at home.  Finally, one day his mother told him to quit.  He said that he couldn't because he was worried about what his father would say.  His mother said not to worry about his father and insisted that he quit which he did.  After a couple of months he landed a good job with the Ocean City Fishing Reel Company.  Ocean City probably made the best quality salt-water fishing reels in the United States.  He started as a stockman and over the course of the next 10 years he advanced to the position of reel inspector.  He next worked for the Austin Supply Company again starting out as a stockman.  In the two years he worked there he (1955-57) he rose to the position of purchasing agent. 

In 1957, Donald was hired as a purchasing agent by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was later known as the Penn Central then as Conrail. 

Although his family and friends figured him to be a confirmed bachelor in the late 1960s he met Elizabeth G. "Betty" Bailer.  He and Betty married on September 27, 1969 at Saint Lawrence Catholic Church in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. 

Photo: Don & Betty on their wedding day. Courtesy of Betty Tinneny.

In his early years with the railroad he experienced many layoffs.  In 1961 he was well established on the job but a nation wide coal or steel strike, which lasted a long time resulted in him being laid off.  His brother Joe got him a job on a construction crew that was building the Schuylkill Expressway, Interstate 76, in the area of Philadelphia. 

After about a year he was called back to his job with the railroad.  He was very happy and described the job on the road construction crew as the toughest job that he ever had.  Donald worked as a purchasing agent with the railroad for 33 years.  During that time he handled accounts nationwide.  He retired from the railroad in 1992.

Following his retirement from the railroad Donald worked as a security guard until his retirement from there in Late May or early June 2005.  The day following his retirement he had respiratory problems and was taken to the hospital with what was thought initially to be pneumonia but which turned out to be lung cancer. 

His wake will be July 28th at Koller’s Funeral Home in Philadelphia.  He will be buried following a Mass at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia on Friday July 29, 2005.

Donald is survived by his wife Betty, Son Donald and Daughters Charity, Elizabeth, Bridget and several grandchildren.


Copyright  R. Tinneny,  All Rights Reserved, 2002-2018