Cover photo for Theo Kenyon's Obituary
Theo Kenyon Profile Photo
1922 Theo 2021

Theo Kenyon

September 5, 1922 — November 19, 2021

Theo Jean Kenyon, 99, died November 19, 2021, in Peoria, IL. She was born on September 5, 1922, in Peoria, the only child of Theo (Younglove) and Eugene Ahrends. She married Leslie H. Kenyon October 23, 1954, and he died January 11, 2011.

Theo graduated from Peoria High School and Northwestern University where she was the first woman editor of the Daily Northwestern, the campus publication. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa national honor society. After graduation, she joined the Journal Star in 1944, working there until 2010, as a reporter, feature writer, and arts critic.

Her decades-long career at the Journal Star included press coverage of Presidential candidates from Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy and Governor Adlai Stevenson II. She also reviewed plays, concerts, and art shows.

She was a charter member and twice President of the Peoria Newspaper Guild, and walked the picket line in its strike to acquire health care coverage for its members.

She was a supporter of the Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation, the Heartland Festival Orchestra, the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, Lakeview Museum, and the Peoria Art Guild. She was a member of the Universalist Unitarian Church

Theo loved The New Yorker magazine and taught classes on it for OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University. She also corresponded with its editor when questions arose. She was a generous person who gave wonderful Christmas parties and gifts to friends. She could be counted on to supply treats for any party she attended.

Theo worked with her husband on historic preservation, helping to save The Grand Army of the Republic Hall. In 2015 she donated the funds for the Hall’s elevator in his honor.

Her husband, Leslie, was head of Kenyon and Associates Architects, designing many public buildings, including Peoria Players Theater and more recently the Universalist Unitarian Church, 300 W. Richwoods Blvd., Peoria.

Survivors include several cousins.

Memorials may be made to the Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation at or the Universalist Unitarian Church. Online tributes and condolences and memorials may be made at

A private burial of ashes will take place at Springdale Cemetery. Cumerford-Clary Funeral Home, 428 W. McClure Ave, Peoria, is in charge of arrangements.

A memorial service and reception will be held at the Universalist Unitarian Church, 3000 W. Richwoods Blvd., Peoria, IL. at 12 noon on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Theo J (Ahrends) Kenyon, please visit our floral store.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Theo Kenyon, please visit our flower store.


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