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home : columnists : columnists November 18, 2017


10/25/2017 4:00:00 AM
John W. Kennedy made a difference
John W. Kennedy
John W. Kennedy

By Betsy Reason
Editor


Noblesville's John W. Kennedy once told me that he stuck close to home because he had deep roots in a community he loved.

He graduated in 1972 from Noblesville High School, following the heels of his father, Jim, who graduated in 1944. His mother, Beba, was an NHS teacher. His grandpa, Moe Kennedy, coached football, basketball and track here. His brother, James Kennedy Jr., who most people know as "Chooch," is a 1968 NHS grad. His sister, Corya Kennedy Channing, is a 1966 NHS grad.

Kennedy was a loyal sports fan, attending all of the Noblesville Miller basketball games and helped raise funds for Hare Chevrolet Field, home of the Miller football team.

I learned all of this 10 years ago when I interviewed Kennedy, who was named 2007 NHS Alumnus of the Year.

I also learned that life, for Kennedy, was about making a difference in his community.

He single-handedly raised thousands of dollars for the NHS Alumni Association's college scholarship fund after in 2005 he joined the alumni board and was immediately elected vice president.

An avid golfer, who had worked part time at Fox Prairie Golf Course in Noblesville, Kennedy organized the alumni association's first golf outing on May 1, 2005, at Forest Park Golf Course, to raise money for college-bound NHS seniors. He lined up the hole sponsors, rounded up teams to play, solicited door prizes from local businesses and made sure every player got a personalized Millerman golf towel, said classmate and alumni association board member Peggy Baldwin Beaver, who presented Kennedy with the 2007 award.

"John just ran with it every year, and it was a huge success," Beaver said. In his 10 years on the alumni board, for which he spent four years as president, his diligent work raised more than $40,000 for scholarships.

"When he resigned (in 2014), the golf outing fell apart because there was no one who would give that kind of commitment like he did," she said. The last outing was in 2015.

He and his classmates celebrated their 45th reunion in July at South Harbour Clubhouse, and Kennedy was the emcee. He emceed the last three class reunions and had plans to start a class of '72 golf outing to raise funds for the 50-year reunion.

At NHS, Kennedy was 12th in his class. He played football and golf and was on the yearbook staff. He was a sectional swimming champion who gained much of his inspiration in high school from former NHS swim coach Terry Busby.

As an adult, Kennedy was an avid supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville.

Some folks might remember in 2004 when his find in an antique store turned into $3,800 for the Boys & Girls Club. Kennedy, who collected old sports memorabilia, donated an antique hand fan signed by every living Indiana Mr. Basketball since 1939 for the annual Boys & Girls Club Auxiliary Auction. The fan was a souvenir at the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Basketball Game on June 25, 1960, at Freedom Hall Coliseum in Louisville, Ky. Kennedy, an IHSAA basketball official who refereed games at the club, spent three years obtaining the 66 autographs, which included Tom Coverdale of Noblesville, Mr. Basketball in 1998.

Kennedy was a past exalted ruler and 14-year member of Noblesville Elks Lodge No. 576. He and his wife, Terri Sigman-Kennedy, also a '72 NHS grad and past exalted ruler, were directors of the Noblesville Elks Hoop Shoot, a free-throw shooting contest for kids ages 8-13. In 2016, the 27th annual Hoop Shoot took place at the Boys & Girls Club.

Kennedy thought the Hoop Shoot was important to the youth in our community, telling me "Kids learn the value of hard work while gaining valuable experience working with adults and other kids."

Kennedy, in his daytime job, sold life and health insurance with his late father, and twice he was named Employee of the Year at U.S. Foodservice, formerly McMahon Food Co., Kraft Foodservice and Alliant Foodservice, through which he, in conjunction with the Elks Lodge, organized a food drive for Third Phase, a Noblesville shelter for battered and abused women and children.

"To know John was to love John," Beaver sadly posted on Facebook last Wednesday. Kennedy died earlier that day, on Wednesday, Oct. 18. He was 63.

She said, "John was a great friend and classmate. He will be missed."

Kennedy will forever be remembered for helping the community he loved.

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

Related Stories:
• John W. Kennedy





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