Born in Atlanta, Kennedy wanted to serve his country during World War II but there were two things working against him: his age and his weight. He was too young and very skinny, but a tall tale about his age and a crate of bananas helped him overcome those obstacles, so the story goes. Kennedy told friends and family that he was sent home from the Naval enlistment office with a crate of bananas to eat that week so he could make the minimum weight. When he returned the following week he wasn’t any older, but he was a few pounds heavier, his daughter said.
“Yes, I heard the one about the bananas,” said Myrna Bond, a family friend and the director of nursing at Southwest Christian Care in Union City. “He loved to talk and tell his stories,” she added with a light laugh.
Before he left for the war Kennedy promised his next door neighbor and sweetheart, the former Margaret Frances Kittles, that he’d come back for her, and he did. The two were married, adopted two daughters and spent 55 years together until her death.
Kennedy said her father spent 30 years as an Atlanta police officer. One of the most rewarding assignments he had while on the force was working with children who had been abused, she said.
“He really loved serving and helping,” she said. “And he really had an affinity for helping children.”
Bond said Kennedy was extremely generous and he seemed to give out of instinct and not obligation. Bond said she first met Kennedy when his ailing wife was being cared for by staff at Southwest Christian Care.
“If he thought there was something we needed he would just give us those things,” she said. “He would also give of his time very freely. He would come and read and sit with the children who we serve. He was just a very thoughtful man.”
In addition to his daughter, Kennedy is survived by daughter Pamela Kennedy of Newnan; sister, Annette Ingram of Douglasville; and four grandchildren.