James P. Kennedy, age 89, a loving husband, father and grandfather, died on February 1, 2021, at his home in Manchester, CT. Jim was a dedicated educator who served 24 years as the Superintendent of Schools for the Manchester Public Schools.
Jim is survived by his beloved wife of 16 years, Mary Carroll Kennedy, and his four children: Ellen Kennedy Slater and spouse John H. Slater, James P. Kennedy, Jr., Jennifer Kennedy Farrell and spouse Jeffrey Farrell, and Jeffrey W. Kennedy and spouse Mariya Trentcheva-Kennedy. He is also survived by eight grandchildren: Joseph Kennedy Slater, Thomas Kennedy Slater, Maria Kennedy, Sarah Kennedy, Aidan Kennedy, Kate Kennedy Farrell, Lily Katherine Farrell, and Julia Ellie Kennedy. In addition, he is survived by his brother Richard Kennedy and his sister Kathleen Kennedy Wilson. He was predeceased by Katherine O’Keefe Kennedy, his beloved wife of 48 years, and their daughter Judith L. Kennedy.
Following service in the U. S. Army, Jim began his career as a classroom teacher, first in Lansing, MI, and then in Tarrytown, NY, where he later became the principal of W. L. Morse Elementary School. In 1968, he was named Associate Superintendent for Elementary Education for the City of Minneapolis, MN. In Minneapolis, Jim implemented a model desegregation program pairing elementary schools from different neighborhoods to address racial imbalance.
From 1972 until 1996, Jim was the Superintendent of the Manchester Public Schools. He committed himself to improving the education of the Town’s public-school students, navigating staff development, curriculum enhancements, school closings, budget cuts, and school construction projects. He also spent time in the classroom, combining his love of teaching with a passion for American history by occasionally teaching classes at Manchester High School.
During his working years, Jim was active in the community. He was an officer of the Tarrytown Historical Society, a member of the Manchester Rotary Club and a longtime member of the Hartford Area Superintendents’ Association. Following his retirement from Manchester, Jim was a consultant in the creation of the CREC Two Rivers Magnet Middle School, an environmentally themed STEM school serving the Hartford area.
Jim held a B.S. from Boston University, an M.A. from Michigan State University and a Ph.D from UConn. He was an avid follower of the UConn Women’s basketball team and a life-long Red Sox fan who never missed a game. When Gramps tapped his fingers on the table you knew it was time to end dinner, turn on the TV and play ball. He loved spending time with family at his house on Martha’s Vineyard, introducing each of his grandchildren to the joys of the island and the rules of baseball. He was still playing tennis twice a week at age 86, and spent many hours happily pushing grandchildren in strollers. He and Mary enjoyed travels to Europe and Nova Scotia and happy winters in Florida. In recent years, he spent contented hours reading piles of history books and thrillers and watching Blue Bloods and sports with his beloved dog Sully on his lap. He will be greatly missed.
A family memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes gifts in Jim’s memory to The Neag School of Education at UConn: education.uconn.edu; or the Kennedy Family Memorial Scholarship, c/o The Manchester Scholarship Foundation, Inc., 20 Hartford Road, Manchester, CT 06040.
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