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Eugenie "Genie" Van Drooge Kissinger, led LI United Way, in-law of Henry Kissinger

Eugenie "Genie" Van Drooge Kissinger of Huntington Bay began her public service more than four decades ago cooking and making sandwiches for United Way participants.

Kissinger, the sister-in-law of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, eventually worked her way from the kitchen to the board room of the charitable organization, until her retirement in 1991.

The Brooklyn-born Kissinger died April 26 in Palm Desert, California after a long battle with emphysema, her family said. She was 81.

Kissinger's career in Long Island public service later included serving on the board of directors for the Family Service League. She served as board president of the organization in 1974 and 1975. From 1977 until 1984, she also served on the Long Island United Way's board of directors.

Kissinger led the United Way's admissions and allocations planning council from 1978 until 1982 and served as board president from 1983 to 1984, her family said.

"She started as a chef and sandwich maker and ultimately ended up running all of United Way," said her son, William Kissinger, 53, of Mill Valley, California. "She always felt like it was important to be part of your community. That was a huge part of her life."

In 1985, Kissinger became director of the United Way's agency relations division, a job she held until her retirement in 1991. She continued to support several charitable organizations on Long Island as well as near Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Palm Desert, California, where she and her husband of 55 years, Walter Kissinger, 89, also had homes.

She is also survived by her sisters Ellen Kirby of Heathsville, Virginia, and Valerie Van Drooge of Monroe, Connecticut; children Thomas, 51, of Boulder, Colorado, Dana Kissinger Matray, 50, of Villars-Sous-Yens, Switzerland, John, 47, of Ouray, Colorado; and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Monday at 1:30 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church in Huntington.

Kissinger's family asks that contributions in her name be made to the Family Service League.

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