Ronald A. Keno, 90 years old, car dealer, collector and enthusiast



Keno standing with the cat “Blackie” in front of the door of the 19th century stone “Smoke house” which still stands on the Keno property today.

Submitted by family

MOHAWK, NY – Ronald “Ron” A. Keno passed away peacefully after a brief battle with cancer on Monday, June 21, at the age of 90. He was born August 17, 1930, the son of Leslie and Anna Keno and was a longtime resident of Mohawk. Keno’s great-grandparents, François Cuenot and his wife, Marie, were born in France and emigrated to America, arriving in New York in 1874. His ancestors have a long history in New York State from the mid-17th century, especially in Upper Hudson. River Valley, including Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga and Montgomery counties. Keno’s maternal grandmother, Delphine Devenpeck was a direct descendant of Cornelius Van Horne, who fought in the Third Regiment of Tryon’s Militia in the Battle of Oriskany, considered one of the turning points in the war of ‘Independence.

Keno’s eighth great-grandfather was General Philip J. Schuyler (1733-1804), who married Catherine Van Rensselaer, in 1755. Catherine’s mother was Angelica Livingston (born at Fort Orange, Albany, July 17, 1698 ). As a member of the Continental Congress for several terms, United States Senator for New York in 1755, and a senior officer, Schuyler was awarded the rank of Major General on June 19, 1775, making him the third in command of the army. revolutionary under George Washington. His primary residence was the Schuyler Mansion in Albany. Philip Schuyler’s country estate, farm, various mills and multiple businesses and stores were the origin of the village of Old Saratoga, now called Schuylerville.

Keno attended Mohawk High School and was educated at Syracuse University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1952 he married former Norma Sweet of Herkimer, with whom he had a devoted and loving union for 49 years until his death in February 2001. He was a highly regarded art teacher in high school in Herkimer. for over 25 years.

Keno is seen here in an undated photo at the Brimfield Flea Market with a boldly painted pine domed first trunk.

Keno is seen here in an undated photo at the Brimfield Flea Market with a boldly painted pine domed first trunk.

Kenos were passionate about antiques and soon opened their first antique store in the front center room of the house, then later moved to a small barn on the property. It wasn’t long before Keno and his family began exhibiting in antique fairs on the East Coast. Kenos began to expand what started out as a hobby into a business, embarking on a lifelong adventure in search of treasure.

Soon after graduating from college, Keno began his career as an art teacher at Herkimer High School; he spent about eight years during the summer as a blacksmith. He once said that from an early age he had always had a fascination with bridges. His three sons – eldest son Mitchell and twin sons Leigh and Leslie – have vivid memories of being awed as they watched their father casually walk on thin steel beams hundreds of feet in the air without ropes from security or climb the interior walls of the large red barn to repair the roof. They argue that their father’s courage and his strong desire to help others and animals in need was the reason they never followed comic book or movie superheroes. In their words, “Daddy was our own ‘superhero’ and the best role model a son could ask for.” Throughout their lives Keno Sons met countless people who were in their father’s art class, they almost always mentioned the positive effects he had on their life or career. Growing up, the twins had good friends of Herkimer who had Keno as their teacher and who told them that he was “more of a father to them than their own father”.

Keno standing next to his Cord 812 Supercharged Beverly painted in 1937 brown.

Keno standing next to his Cord 812 Supercharged Beverly painted in 1937 brown.

The late 1960s and 1970s saw a massive increase in the number of new antique salons, antique stores, and outdoor lounges. The Brimfield Flea Market was one of Keno’s favorite flea markets and the family exhibited there three times a year. When the doors opened early in the morning, the long caravan of vans and trucks poured into the field. Keno cooked the barbecue and Norma always served home cooked meals to her growing group of friends. Kenos eventually met the now legendary Russell Carrell and exhibited for many years at Russell hosted flea markets throughout New England and New York State; he was one of the first, if not the very first salon manager in America, to invite merchants who shared his personal passion for decorative arts and furniture from the 17th to the early 19th century. Several of Kenos’ favorite shows were the Salisbury Show, the Golden Ball Tavern Show, and the Shaker Museum in Chatham, NY

Once Keno decided on something, there wasn’t much that could stand in the way. He particularly supported his three boys. A particularly memorable example came around 1971, when the twins opened their mail one afternoon, only to see photos spilling out of a large 6 gallon marked stoneware jar decorated with a cobalt blue elephant wearing boots. . The asking price was $ 600! Leslie and Leigh made a quick phone call to the folk art dealers who owned them and within an hour Ron was driving on his way to their store driving all night through a small town north of Detroit, Michigan. The pot became one of the most important pieces in his sons’ growing collection of stoneware.

Kenos have found immense joy in having meals or simply having coffee with the countless visitors who have visited their home. Stories of discovery were shared by all. In winter, the 19th century stove was always on fire and an endless stream of visitors was almost always guaranteed. They went out of their way to welcome others into their homes. Keno has always done its best to help others in need, just like Norma. A good friend of our parents was so heavy that a normal chair could not support its weight; Keno researched and discovered a large Arts and Crafts period oak armchair that had a special place in the kitchen every time he went there.

Keno in the water with a very young Mitchell.

Keno in the water with a very young Mitchell.

Keno’s passion for historic European, British and American sports cars is well known. The three sons vividly remember being passengers in their teens, while their father “drifted four-wheeled” cars “at high speed” with “strange” skill through the legendary S-curves of the road. several kilometers from the Keno property. This long, winding section of paved road with sloping rocky cliffs on either side was a series of ‘adrenaline-filled’ curves that cut through rocky cliffs through a narrow valley while luckily allowing the driver to see all the cars coming in. reverse.

Car enthusiast at heart, Keno was a founding member (# 67) of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club, founded in the mid-1950s. Kenos have somehow managed to pull off the seemingly impossible feat of settle in, the newly born twins, young Mitchell and a picnic basket, in their 1937 Supercharged Auburn Boat-Tailed Speedster. The family then traveled to western New York State for attend the Watkins Glen International Grand Prix races, which took place on the international circuit long known as “The Glen”, a circuit that has become the racing mecca of North America. Keno bought, restored, and operated many Marques from England, Italy, and the United States that would later fill most of the barns on Keno’s property; he had a preference for Jaguar sports cars of the 50s and 60s. Two of his greatest discoveries were a 1938 3½-liter Jaguar SS-100 and a 1939 Alfa Romeo Superleggera, which later turned out to be the rendezvous car commissioned by Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, during his romance with his mistress Claretta Petaacci.

Keno has always had an innate talent and the chance to experience some really great pieces. In 2012, he received a call from his next door neighbor about an “old carved chest” that had descended on their family. Coincidentally, the twins used to run against the wires on their off-road motorcycles (i.e. off-road motorcycles) on the roughly three-kilometer-long dirt road next to their House. As it turns out, the carved and painted dower chest with its original painted finish was later attributed to Deacon John Moore Shop Tradition, Windsor, Connecticut, 1675-1690. News of the discovery of Keno reached the Anderson Cooper show, and neighbors were invited to sit in the front row of the studio. With the safe on stage and the camera in motion, Leslie and Leigh told the owners they owned a “masterpiece” of Pilgrim Century furniture valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was then sold in 2012 to Leigh’s auction house, Keno Auctions, for $ 632,400, setting a new auction record for a box attached to Pilgrim Century.

Keno holding twins Leslie and Leigh, with eldest son Mitchell.

Keno holding twins Leslie and Leigh, with eldest son Mitchell.

Keno will always be remembered for his storytelling, his big happy personality, his empathy and compassion for those around him and his love of beautiful objects.

Keno is survived by his good friend Dorothy Butler and their dog Annie, his three sons and their children: Mitchell, his wife Kristin and his granddaughter Lisa; Leigh, his wife Jasmine, and grandson Brandon; Leslie, his wife Emily, his granddaughter Ashley and his grandson Philip Schuyler.

A small local service and funeral was held on Saturday June 26. No other memorial is planned for the moment.

Please consider donations in Ron’s memory to the Norma Keno Animals in Crisis Fund at the Herkimer County Humane Society, Herkimer, NY (514 NY-5S, Mohawk, NY, 13407, 315-866-3255).



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