Susan Powers Kennelly of Napa CA died of natural causes on June 5, 2022, at age 84, surrounded by family members. Born in Omaha NE, she was the only child of Joseph Francis Powers and Sue Morearty Powers. She graduated from Duchesne Academy in Omaha and then received a full scholarship to the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where she pursued a lifelong interest in the theater under Rev. Gilbert V. Hartke, founder and head of the university's renowned drama department. In later years she served several terms on the university's Alumni Board of Directors.
Her first job after graduation in 1959 was as a reporter for the Washington Star, where she covered the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. In 1961 she played a leading role in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, opening Washington's Shakespeare Festival on the grounds of the National Mall.
Pursuing her love of the performing arts, she became director of public relations for Arena Stage in Washington, and thereafter formed her own public relations firm. She also sat on the board of the American Light Opera Company and co-founded the American Arts Association to assist struggling new artistic groups.
In 1964 she married Justice Department lawyer Thomas Anthony Kennelly at Holy Trinity Church in Washinton, with Fr. Hartke officiating. Susan and Thomas had three children, Patrick Joseph, Timothy Francis, and Katherine Theresa Kennelly Olds.
In the 1960's and '70's, Susan did publicity and formed friendships with many famed folk singers and musicians performing in the nation's capital. She gave a party for Joan Baez in her home, hosted Pete Seeger for a living room jam session, and led Arlo Guthrie on a tour of the White House.
In 1980, with the help of a Washington music critic, she raised funds and helped found the Gonzaga High School band for her sons. Originally five members, the Gonzaga music program has grown to multiple ensembles with hundreds of musicians.
Susan switched to a career as a travel consultant, first in Washington and then after moving to Napa in 1994. She visited more than 50 countries and sent her clients to nearly as many. She organized and led several pilgrimages to religious shrines for her fellow parishioners at St. Apollinaris Church. She also served for 18 years as director of tours and travel for the Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco, arranging educational tours for its 1300 senior members.
Susan's volunteer work in Napa included serving on the Board of Napa County Landmarks and writing copy for its Holiday Candlelight Tours; co-founding the Napa Valley Arts Group of 28 non-profits for mutual support; creating with her husband the Inside-Out Network to help families of the incarcerated; raising funds for Catholic Charities; and with her husband, organizing 100 of her neighbors to support Napa ValleyCanDo's bi-monthly drive for the Napa Food Bank.
Susan is survived by her husband and her three children, daughter-in-law Myriam, sister-in-law Mary Lu Kennelly, grandsons Dimitri, Yuri, Rowan, and Evan, and an ever-growing extended family of Omaha cousins.
A viewing will be held on Thursday, June 16, at the Tulocay Mortuary, 411 Coombsville Road. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 AM on Friday, June 17, at St. Apollinaris Church, 3700 Lassen St., Napa. A reception in the church hall will follow.
Contriibutions in lieu of flowers may be made to Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa or the Napa Valley Food Bank.