Don W. Kennedy

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Don W. Kennedy, who had a distinguished legal, political, and judicial career in Missouri that spanned almost 50 years, died at his home in Marion, Ky., early Friday, Oct. 10. He was 82. He had been in declining health in recent years, suffering from Parkinson's Disease as well as post-polio syndrome.

Judge Kennedy was appointed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, in Kansas City, in 1978, and served until his retirement in 1995. He previously served as circuit judge in Vernon and surrounding counies in Missouri where he began his legal practice in Nevada in 1947. He was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 1964 to 1970. Before his election to state political office he served as a prosecuting attorney in Vernon County and as assistant attorney general for the state of Missouri. He also served terms on the Nevada city council and as mayor of Nevada, Mo.

Judge Kennedy was born in Shell City, Mo., in 1925. He was stricken with polio at the age of 11. He frequently said that having polio was a life-changing event because he knew he could never make a living using his body and would have to develop his mind to the fullest. He graduated from Southwest Baptist College, in Boliver, Mo., in 1943 and the University of Missouri School of Law in 1947.

In his later years, he took complete delight in being in the company of young children and especially his own grandchildren. He authored a children's book, Oliver the Weak-Tailed Possum, based on a story he often told his children when they were young. The story had its roots in his own disabilities as a child with polio.

He was a loyal Southern Baptist for more than 60 years. He served as a Sunday School teacher and deacon in the First Baptist Church of Nevada and Wornall Road Baptist Church in Kansas City. He served on countless committees and boards in his churches and for the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Judge Kennedy was preceded in death by his parents, Don and Cleta Kennedy of Nevada, Mo., and by a son, Roger Quin Kennedy, who died of leukemia in 1973 at the age of 17.

A celebration of life memorial services will be held at Wornall Road Baptist Church , Kansas City, Mo., at 11 a.m., on Saturday, Oct. 25. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. A second service will be held at First Baptist Church, Nevada,Mo, at 2 p.m., on Sunday, Oct. 26.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Audrey Kennedy; three daughters, Julianne Pederson and husband Tony Pederson, of Dallas, Jennifer Dean and late husband Wayne Dean, of Marion, Ky., and Priscilla Graham and husband Dr. Scott Graham, of Marion, Ky.; two sisters, Mynatte Whisler and husband Clarence Whisler, of Carthage, Mo., and Mary Holley and husband Dale Holley, of Colorado Springs, Co.; five grandchildren, Brantley Quin Dean, of Durham, N.C., Kennedy Dean and wife Sarah, of Sioux Falls, S.D., Amy Graham Pagitt and husband Todd Pagitt of Dallas, Stinson Dean and wife Stephanie, of Olathe, Kan., and Hannah Pederson, of Dallas; and five nieces and nephews, Steve Whisler and wife Barbara, of Boliver, Mo., Mary Whisler Layman and husband Rusty Layman, of Springfield, Mo., Tom Holley and wife Nancy, of Houston, Rachel Holley, of Fairbanks, Alaska, and Betsy Holley Shillings and husband Dan Shillings, also of Fairbanks; and nine great-nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Nevada First Baptist Church, Redford Student Aid in care of the Southwest Baptist University, The Praying Life Foundation (P.O. Box 660 Marion, KY 42064).