Sean Patrick McKeny Dorrell, age 22, passed away June 19, 2023. The youngest of three born to his mama, Tricia Dorrell, on September 3, 2000. When Sean was only days old, we nearly lost him. Becoming pale and coding at the doctors office, he was rushed to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. There he was diagnosed with a rare heart condition, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, and spent the next days in the NICU. As a 9 pound baby, Sean was the biggest baby in the unit.
Sean was the sweetest child, always full of smiles and affection. When he was little, it was nearly impossible to get him to sleep because he didn’t want to miss a thing. Most nights, his bedtime ritual was to cozy up with Mommy, Grammy or Aunt Katy, sucking on his blankie while watching his favorite movie, Monster’s Inc. Sean had such staying power, he would continue watching a second time after others fell asleep.
During his childhood, Sean was a quiet, kind, soft spoken boy who showed genuine compassion for people and animals. His favorite activities were legos, books, video games, having fun with his siblings, watching movies and being engrossed in play.
The loss of his mom at just 6 years old was a particularly painful time of his childhood. After a traumatic period away from home, Sean was reunited with and fostered by his grandmother Anne. In 2012, at age 11, his adoption by Anne was finalized. Sean rose above his circumstances and was always one to offer a kind word to others. Sean was the family’s baby, and he matured at his own pace, on his own terms. From the time he was little, Sean loved to hear stories, have books read to him, watch movies, and play with anything that was detail oriented.
When he first went to preschool at age 2, the staffers referred to him as a little linebacker because of his size and the way he carried himself. He was a joy to have in class. He was a jolly, loving boy who played hard and always had love to give. He took hand writing seriously, writing the tiniest letters with teachers always trying to get him to write bigger.
Sean loved legos, getting new sets and spending hours on tedious projects. He was well liked by his friends and fellow students. While some teachers expressed frustration with his lack of follow through, most delighted in having Sean as a student because he was kind, easy going and good natured.
Sean wasn’t the most athletic kid, but he was always eager to be part of a team and do his best in baseball, soccer and football. It was a joy to watch him play.
At Phoenix Christian School, Sean discovered a love for theater, thanks to his teacher Amanda Ervin. He happily helped with the yearly play production, setting up and performing. We were blown away by his first on stage performance.
He continued his love of Theater at Arcadia High School where he delighted in theater tech, including going on a Broadway trip of a lifetime to New York City. There he saw multiple Broadway plays, toured the city and went behind the scenes at multiple historical theater venues with fellow thespians, techies, staff and Grandma Anne.
Like his Mom and Papa Drew, Sean was a voracious reader, engrossed in books while tuning out the world around him. In both grade school and high school, he was called out for reading too much, as his devotion to books took precedence over his studies. His high school math teacher was quick to point out that had he spent as much time on math as reading, he’d be successful in Algebra. He was known at the library as the kid who checked out more books than anyone else.
This love of reading was a constant his whole life. Unlike most teenagers, Sean had little interest in driving as he could read more books if he took the city bus. He continued riding the bus until very recently, when at 22 he purchased a car and, only after, secured a license.
Sean was introduced to Hope and a Future while very young and went to the summer camps throughout his childhood. After he aged out of camp, he gave back by volunteering at camp as a teenager and young adult. He just recently completed the yearly training for the 2023 camp season.
Throughout Sean’s childhood, he traveled with family to California, Texas, Idaho, Ohio and New York. He shared that joy of travel and adventure with his Grandma Sue. They went to many places including Mexico and then to Europe for his high school graduation. He enjoyed other memorable trips, especially his 21st birthday trip, to Las Vegas, with his brother Nick and his Uncle Jesse.
Sean’s next planned trip was to a concert out of state with friends. He loved music, listening to the broadest variety with it always playing. His last concert was Joshua Ray Walker just days before his passing. Attending with family, everyone stayed after to meet the artist and take a photo. Joshua even signed brother Nick’s motorcycle.
Among his other passions, Sean developed a deep fondness for cooking. In recent years he worked at the Mission in Scottsdale. There he learned a great deal about food, cooking, and wine and was always eager to share this knowledge with others.
In all his vastness and love of culture, learning, fantasy, music, reading, movies, gaming, and a list that is ongoing, Sean shared a unique connection to all in his life. To sit in a circle of his friends and family, each person could describe a different shared interest with our boy.
Sean is survived by his (grand)parent: Anne. Siblings: Nicholas, Lily, Erica, Connor, Wyatt & Adam. Aunts & Uncles: Andrew, Vanessa, Kevin, Colette, Katy, Jesse, Mark, Stasee & Ethan. Father: Brian. Nephew: Dimas Matthew. Grandparents: Peter, Sue, Mathew. Great Aunts and Uncles: Nancy, Noreen, Barney, Theresa, Carrie, Clarence. Cousins: Hailey, Charlie, Will, Caleb, Kiara, Avelin, Norah, Luke, Emily & Eileen. Beloved pets: Lola & Diesel. And many, many extended family, wonderful friends and colleagues.
Sean is preceded in death by his mom: Tricia. Sisters: Aubrianna & Emma. Uncle: Matthew. Grandfather: Drew. Great grandparents: Charles, Eileen, Jean, Dolores & Gerda.
Visitation and sharing will be Tuesday, June 27, 2023 from 6-8 pm, with service at 7pm, at Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home, 4800 E. Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018. The funeral mass will be on Wednesday, June 28, 2023 at 10am at Saint Theresa Catholic Church, 5045 E. Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018. Burial will take place immediately after mass at Saint Francis Cemetery, located at 2033 N. 48th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008 followed by a reception at Mount Claret Conference Center, 4633 N 54th St, Phoenix, AZ 85018. All are encouraged to join us and share memories of our Sean.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to Hope and a Future (azhope.org).