Obituary of Donald David Kennedy
Don grew up with Mom and Dad, seven siblings, and a dog named Oscar in a 1563 square-foot house in the Summit-University neighborhood of St. Paul MN. Sports were a love of Don's and he played basketball, hockey, and baseball growing up. Not only was his athleticism developed so were several lifelong friendships forged.
Don attended both Marshall High School and St Paul Central, In the years to follow, he proudly attended every single high school reunion until 2018 when his health declines became too severe.
Don loved to mesmerize his children when they were young with tales of the Kennedy family gathering around the radio and listening to "The Shadow Knows' '. Don was a masterful storyteller his whole life.
Two years after graduating high school in 1956 Don enlisted in the Navy. He served two years on the U.S.S. Valley Forge, where he worked as the ship's artist and writer. Don returned to St. Paul Minnesota in 1958.
That year he met and married Sandra Byers. A beautiful green-eyed brunette, 2 years his junior from the other Twin City called Minneapolis. Michael came first in 1960, followed by Laura in 1962, and finally Amy in 1966.
In the early 1970s and armed with the GI Bill, Don returned to college in his mid-thirties where he worked at the Minnesota Daily Newspaper. He was considered the "cool old guy", by his much younger co-workers and fellow students. With one class short of a bachelor's degree in Communications, Don just could never master Spanish to complete his credits and get that degree.
Don however did not let that deter him. Armed with sideburns, a Burt Reynolds mustache, and a Peter Falk Columbo trench coat Don started what would be his last career at a large cleaning supply company called Dalco. He was a top salesman for many years, but always yearned for creative work.
After some years he became a technical writer at Dalco and in 2009 he retired from Dalco. He was called back in his early 70's to write Dalco's first and only historical Memoir 1959-2009. It was an epic achievement and certainly a highlight of Don's 7th decade.
Don remained active walking daily to counteract his love of peanut butter and ice cream. He continued his voracious love of reading, old movies, lifelong friendships, and trying to learn how to use the internet.
Don's daughter Laura (who wrote this) was happily stunned when he finally figured out how to use email. Ironically, it was the ability to use email that started to reveal his cognitive decline. At first, we chalked it up to mild short-term memory loss until he started getting lost in his car 100 miles outside of the Twin Cities while attempting just a short doctor's appointment trip. Somehow, after two of these incidents, the car keys were wrestled from an unhappy Don.
And so it begins.
Too many people reading this will already know how my dad Don's story plays out. Dementia is a cruel, inhumane, undignified thief in the night and the day for that matter. It's relentless in its robbery of your loved one's entire identity.
I'll spare you the gory details and there are plenty.
Instead, I will leave you with what dementia didn't steal from my dad.
His sense of humor. His love of baseball. His graciousness. He did say thank you after screaming at nurses for taking his blood. His love of a cold can of Coke and a slice of pizza. His gratitude. There wasn't a time that I ever talked to him that he didn't profess his great love for all his children and my sole caretaking of him for nine years. He worried about us all, even his ex-wife, my mother Sandy whom he had been divorced from for over 43 years. His sociability and true interest in everyone. His lifelong fight against bigotry and hate. A true civil rights guy right to the end.
In the last leg of my dad's life, he became a Minnesota Twins pitcher AND 6'4 inches tall and 180lbs. At least that's what he told us and the entire staff in memory care.
I asked him what the secret to his success was since he had spent his whole life as a short chubby guy and he replied "Positive Thinking".
My admiration runs deep for my Dad who in the bleakest of circumstances could somehow switch to a much-preferred existence with complete conviction.
The good news Papa Don, Grandpa, beloved father, and dear old Dad is that you are now FREE.
And not only are you FREE, but we all have more than a hunch, that you are in the best of company.
So say hello from all of us to your brothers Jim and Jack, sisters Joan, Zita, K.C., and Jeannie. Your pops Big Al and your beloved mother Louise. Your nephew Mark, Your in-laws Cap and Bonnie, friends Bob Sanford, Jim and Audrey Pardello, Buzzy Connors, and so many others. Clarence must be there as well. So many loved ones that preceded you through the veil.
We will all miss you something terrible, but PLEASE do us a favor and save us all a seat behind home plate.
Thank you for everything. We love you for eternity,
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