Posts tagged Ted Kennedy
Posts tagged Ted Kennedy
Since October 10, 1993 Ted Kennedy Jr is happily married to Katherine Anne “Kiki” Gershman. She is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine at Yale University and an environmental advocate. She also serves as spokeswoman for Stop the Pipeline, which successfully blocked the Islander East natural gas pipeline across the Long Island Sound. They live in Branford, Connecticut.
Ted and Kiki have a daughter, Kiley Elizabeth (born August 7, 1994), who is a competitive snowboarder and a student at Wesleyan University, and a son, Edward Moore Kennedy III, (born February 25, 1998) who is a student at Choate Rosemary Hall.
BRANFORD, Conn. (AP) — Ted Kennedy Jr. has long had his famous name bandied about as a potential candidate for high political office while he worked for the disabled, campaigned for others and gave a stirring eulogy for his father.
After years of prodding, the son of the late U.S. senator from Massachusetts has finally decided to make his first bid for elected office by running for state senate in Connecticut.
Hundreds, including state officials and numerous television cameras, turned out Tuesday for Kennedy’s official announcement, which drew standing ovations from the crowd that gathered at a Branford library.
Kennedy invoked his famous family, saying he was proud of its fight for social justice and fairness. He said his father, a liberal lion of the Senate who died in 2009, believed in building consensus and he shares that philosophy.
"We need people in government, both Democrat and Republican, who are able to build bridges and find common ground," Kennedy said while joined on stage by his wife and two children.
Kennedy, whose voice boomed like his father’s at times, revealed that the elder Kennedy was among those who had encouraged him to run for office over the years. But he said he wanted to raise his family and develop his own expertise on the issues before running.
Kennedy, a health care lawyer who lives in Branford, serves on the board of the American Association of People with Disabilities. He said a life of advocacy grew from the loss of his leg to cancer as a child.
Kennedy recalled the horror he felt when his father told him at age 12 that doctors would have to amputate his leg. He said he thought his life was over but, in time, the experience enlightened him to the needs of others.
When Kennedy met another boy who lost his leg and learned he couldn’t afford an artificial one, Kennedy said he resolved to do something with his life and make sure others did not have to experience such hardship.
Patrick Kennedy, who represented Rhode Island for 16 years until he retired in 2011, said Monday his brother’s life was transformed when he lost his leg. He said his brother became a “profile in courage” — the phrase that was the title of a book by their uncle, former President John F. Kennedy — by surviving and later becoming a champion for people with disabilities.
Kennedy said he wants to go to Hartford in part to make sure all children have access to mental health services.
Kennedy, 52, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 12th Senatorial District representing towns near New Haven, a lower profile seat than the U.S. Senate, where his name has been mentioned as a possible candidate. Kennedy said he believes he can make an impact at the state level.
Darrell West, a former Brown University professor who wrote a book on Patrick Kennedy, said the decision makes sense.
"Even if your last name is Kennedy you have to establish yourself," said West, vice president of governance studies at the Brookings Institution. "It still creates the opportunities to run for higher office down the road."
Ted Kennedy Jr. spoke to hundreds of mourners at his father’s funeral Mass in Boston in 2009, his voice breaking as he recalled how his father helped him climb a hill to sled as he was adjusting to his artificial leg. That experience, he said, taught him that even the most profound losses are survivable.
West said that speech put the younger Kennedy on the national radar.
"The skill with which he delivered the eulogy gave him greater credibility to run for office," West said.
There are no other declared candidates in the race. Republicans have vowed to vigorously contest the seat.
State Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. said his party has several quality candidates interested in running. Last month, Labriola said he believed the district was “trending Republican.”
The 12th District is represented by retiring Guilford Democrat Edward Meyer. It encompasses Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison and North Branford.
(Source: The Huffington Post)
In early December, Washington’s political class was in one of its episodic ventilations over who would fill the latest round of job openings. The intrigue of the moment involved Hillary Clinton’s replacement as secretary of state. Susan Rice, the U. S. ambassador to the United Nations and onetime front-runner, was taking a public battering, and the fallback candidate, Senator John Kerry, was looking more likely to get the job. This would in turn mean that another Massachusetts Senate seat would be up for grabs — the third election since the death of Ted Kennedy in 2009.
In the midst of all that, I was eating lunch at a private club near the White House at the invitation of Ted Kennedy Jr. As the namesake of the late senator, he was of course entitled under Massachusetts law to slide happily into any available political seat without so much as leaving the compound to drop off a ballot petition. There was only one slight problem with this: he lived in Connecticut, not Massachusetts. But Kennedys have a way of surmounting pesky barriers like these, and conjecture about Kerry’s seat, if it were to become open (which it has), was on the table.
Ted Jr., as he is known, has eager blue eyes and windswept Kennedy hair. He is friendly and solicitous, but his efforts at ingratiating himself come off more self-taught than natural, a bit too eager, as when, weeks earlier, he marveled at how really great it was to see me. At one point he asked if I had ever been to the family home on Cape Cod. When I said no, he insisted, “Oh, you have to come down sometime.” We had never met before.
He speaks in the patrician New England accent and nasal-honking intonations that conjure his father. He kept saying things like “I am entering a new phase of my life” and “I come from a family of public servants,” and it was perfectly clear what Ted Jr. had called me here to discuss. After a lifetime of entreaties, many from his father, the oldest son of Edward M. Kennedy was now, at 51, prepared to join the family business. In the musty parlance of his heritage, he was being “called to service.”
For someone so incubated in the heat of public life, Kennedy betrayed a surprising transparency, or maybe naïveté, in explaining to me how he had been preparing for this next phase. “I’ve been cultivating all sorts of friendships and relationships with people who can be helpful,” he said. And then he made clear how I came in. He also kept mentioning to me that “my father and brother had always spoken highly of you,” which carried a whiff of declaring me “reliable” within the family. (Was I, too, being called to service?) What he envisioned, Ted Jr. said, was “a foundational story” being written about him. “What’s this guy like?” he asked. “What’s he thinking?”
This was somewhat unusual. When someone decides to “come out” as a politician, it is typically in connection with a specific job — as in, “I will be running for such-and-such.” They don’t generally say, “I’m being called to service, please write a foundational story about me.” My immediate question involved exactly what service Ted Jr. was being called to. And where? Would it be in Massachusetts, where he purchased the former home of his Uncle Jack, behind the main family compound in Hyannis Port? Or in Connecticut, where he lives in the New Haven suburb of Branford with his wife, Kiki, a Yale psychiatrist, and teenage son and daughter (their oldest daughter is a freshman at Wesleyan)? There was also the possibility of an executive appointment from a president who regarded his father as a crucial Senate mentor and kingmaker. Ted Jr. wanted me to know that he was open to that.
Whatever the case, there was some urgency that the foundational story be done soon, presumably to help get his name “in play” for the imminent job openings. We were joined at the table by Dick Keil, a former White House reporter for Bloomberg News who now works for a media consulting company called Purple Strategies, which was co-founded by Steve McMahon, a Democratic strategist/TV pundit/friend of Ted Jr.’s from the old days, when he worked on Ted Sr.’s 1980 presidential campaign. Keil, McMahon and Ben Binswanger, another friend, who attended Wesleyan with Ted Jr. and later worked for Senator Kennedy, were all helping guide the soon-to-be-candidate-for-something through the delicate paces of his “rollout.” Ted Jr.’s brother, Patrick, a former congressman from Rhode Island who now lives in New Jersey, was also part of the small advisory team, as was Kiki.
In addition to the whats, whens and wheres, there was also the matter of who — as in: Who did Ted Jr. think he was? As we talked over lunch about the rollout, wherever it may be rolling, I thought of a famous line inflicted on Ted Sr. during his 1962 Senate campaign by his Democratic primary challenger, Edward J. McCormack Jr. McCormack told his 30-year-old opponent — the brother of the sitting president — that he would have no chance in that race if his name were Edward Moore instead of Edward Moore Kennedy. When I started to recall that line, Ted Jr. interjected with the exact quote: “If it was Edward Moore,” he said, “your candidacy would be a joke.”
In fairness, Ted Jr. is more than two decades older and far more experienced than his father was in 1962. He has been a longtime advocate for the disabled — having lost part of his right leg to bone cancer at age 12 — and his Manhattan-based management-consulting firm, the Marwood Group, employs 130 people. But the Edward Moore line resonates within the family. Patrick Kennedy — who was elected to the Rhode Island Legislature at 21 and the U.S. House of Representatives at 27, and who himself once dismissed the U.S. Senate campaign of Scott Brown in Massachusetts as “a joke” — told me that he entered politics “as a Kennedy” but was “still looking for my identity.” His brother, on the other hand, “knows where his true compass is,” Patrick assured me, deploying another pet family term — “true compass” — that happened to be the title of their father’s memoir.
Entire touch-football rosters could be filled with Kennedys who could never have been elected at their tender ages without their last names. In November, Ted’s 32-year-old cousin, Joseph Kennedy III — the son of a former U.S. representative, Joseph Kennedy II — became the latest pledge when he won the congressional seat left by Barney Frank, who retired. Even Ted Jr.’s son, Edward Kennedy III, has announced his intention to run for U.S. senator from Massachusetts someday. He was, at the time of his announcement, 11.
“There is this question with every member of my family,” Patrick Kennedy said. “How do we fit into this amazing legacy that we have been given by dint of our birth?” That is not a sentence most people utter. But his point was that simply running for an office because it is available is the family default option, and it’s not necessarily the best one.
Patrick did not seek re-election in 2010 and now devotes much of his life to promoting treatment and research for twin causes, mental illness and brain injuries. He married, moved to New Jersey and has two children. He has sad green eyes, a big pillow of red hair and the gawky bearing of an overgrown boy. But he also has the weary voice of someone who could be 65.
Patrick told me he has no regrets about his career choices, but his own life proves his original point: that the family reflex to run early is not for everyone. He has battled depression and alcohol and drug addictions for years, and he admits that the United States Congress was not the best place to wrestle these goblins. “When you grow up in my family, being somebody meant having power, having status,” Patrick told me back in 2006, when I was reporting an article for The Times not long after police found him disoriented, having crashed his car into a barrier near the Capitol at 2:45 a.m. “The compensations you got were all material and superficial,” he said. “I’ve come to realize, in the last few months, that that life made me feel all alone.” After the article ran, Patrick told me his father was furious at him for unburdening himself publicly. “Save that stuff for your shrink, not a reporter,” Senator Kennedy said to him.
Ted Jr. is less the unburdening type. He has granted few interviews and he seemed nervous when we talked, or perhaps a bit suffocated by Keil, who was always with us. Keil, whom I first met back in his journalism days, is a friendly and earnest operator who, like many in Washington, is always working. (I ran into him once at the supermarket and teased him about the work Purple Strategies was doing to help BP “reposition” its image after the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Without missing a beat, Keil unleashed his own gusher, calling BP the “the greatest corporate turnaround story in history” before moving on to the deli counter.) He sat in on all three of my meetings with Ted Jr., monitored a subsequent phone call and also stayed close by during my meeting with Patrick. He made backup recordings of all of our conversations, which is not unusual for public-relations people to do, but typically happens with high-level subjects, not with someone who has never run for office and wasn’t really running for anything now. The aggressive “management” of the story conveyed an impression of both loftiness and hand-holding — or, at worst, of a Not Ready for Prime Time Kennedy being propped up by consultants.
All of that said, there’s something innately likable about Ted Jr. People who have known him over the years generally describe a solid, down-to-earth guy who is quite normal, given his royal lineage. And his instinct to become a fully formed human being before answering the “call to service” was admirable. His priority, by all accounts, has always been to raise a family and nurture them as unassumingly as possible (again, for a Kennedy). As he put it, “I pretty much spent half my life trying to resist other people’s timetables.” Later, when I asked him to elaborate on this, he added: “My father was the single most important person in my life. But in some ways, we all live our lives resisting what our parents want us to become.”
In early 1985 Ted Jr. was 23 and living in Somerville, Mass., outside Boston. Tip O’Neill, the district’s longtime representative, had announced he would retire at the end of his term. This seemed an obvious starter gig, but Ted Jr. was not interested. His 34-year-old cousin, Joe — Robert F. Kennedy’s son — ran and won instead. “I never seriously considered that race,” Ted Jr. told me. “My father was strongly considering me.” Ted Sr. commissioned a poll that came back “a slam dunk for Ted,” said Steve McMahon, who was one of the people then running Senator Kennedy’s political operation. Ted Jr.’s decision not to run, McMahon said, “was against the advice and counsel of pretty much everyone around him.” Senator Kennedy was disappointed, Ted Jr. told me. “He couldn’t understand why someone with all the built-in advantages would not take advantage of the opportunity.”
Instead, Ted Jr. enrolled in Yale’s graduate school of forestry. Beyond setting a course away from politics, Ted Jr. told me that he was also trying to escape a one-dimensional identity as an amputee and advocate. “I did not want to be seen as a professional disabled person,” he said.
He gained weight, grew a beard, drank heavily and invited concern that he was priming himself for another, more darkly familiar Kennedy fate. He indulged in what The Boston Globe described as “a playboy-style high life” and “careless social habits.” At about the same time, his cousin, William Kennedy Smith, was charged with rape and faced a subsequent trial that showcased the family’s history of boozy carousing — with the patriarchal senator in a leadership role.
At 29, Ted Jr. enrolled himself in a drug-and-alcohol-treatment program in Hartford. He was always reticent and closed off, he said, which he attributed to being a Kennedy. “It was never very easy for me to express my feelings,” Kennedy told The Globe in 1993, on the eve of his marriage to Kiki. “I think it’s a consequence of growing up in my family and having people prying and feeling like somebody’s always trying to get something from you,” he said. “Then I realized this is no real way to live a life.” His priority, he said, was to start a family and be present as a father. “I realized if I messed that up, it would be the most serious mistake of my life,” he told me. He has not touched alcohol in more than 20 years, he said, because “it just didn’t take much imagination to see the impact that alcohol had on many different people in my family.” Ted’s mother, Joan Kennedy, has also faced many public struggles with alcoholism over the years.
As other Kennedys passed in and out of office (and rehab), the great mentioners and orchestrators consigned Ted Jr. to the terminal-ambivalence compound. His father encouraged him to open a Boston office of Marwood, his consulting firm, to establish more of a presence in Massachusetts, but Ted Jr. resisted.
Then in August 2009, Senator Kennedy died of brain cancer, and Ted Jr. delivered a powerful and much-discussed eulogy “My name is Ted Kennedy Jr.,” he told the mourners assembled at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston. “Although it hasn’t been easy at times to live with this name, I’ve never been more proud of it than I am today.”
The speech’s emotional climax was a story of his father’s taking him sledding at age 12. He was trying to adapt to his artificial limb, and the hill was slick and hard to climb. He kept slipping and started to cry. “And he lifted me up in his strong, gentle arms and said something I will never forget,” Ted Jr. said. “He said: ‘I know you can do it. There is nothing that you can’t do. We’re going to climb that hill together, even if it takes us all day.’ ” The eulogy drew a standing ovation and, almost immediately, renewed talk of Ted Jr.’s political future. “A lot of people were asking, ‘Where have you been?’ ” Ted told me.
(Source: The New York Times)
"Biggest fish I ever caught and Uncle Teddy tried to claim it was his!”
~ Joe Kennedy
Bobby and Teddy Kennedy: Brothers (1968) and cousins (2013)
Harper (daughter of Patrick Kennedy’s wife Amy), Teddy III and Patrick’s little boy Owen :)
Victoria Kennedy, the widow of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, cheered the U.S. Supreme Court today for upholding the historic health care reform that her husband had helped to craft and urged voters to unite behind the legislation.
“We still have much work to do to implement the law, and I hope we can all come together now to complete that work. The stakes are too high for us to do otherwise,” Kennedy wrote in a statement. “As my late husband Senator Edward Kennedy said: ‘What we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.’ ”
The statement came after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called both Victoria Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy after the verdict.
I spoke to Vicki Kennedy this morning and to Patrick Kennedy … thanking them for the important role he played,” Pelosi said, referencing the late senator. “I knew that when he left us he would go to heaven and help pass the bill … and now he can rest in peace. His dream for American families has become a reality.”
Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy sent a plea yesterday morning urging Democrats to give to support the law.
“If the Court upholds the law, dangerous Tea Party extremists will go on a rampage,” the younger Kennedy warned in an e-mail titled, “My father and I fought for this.”
Joseph P. Kennedy III, who is running for Congress, said in a statement: “Today’s decision is a victory for this country – for our seniors who won’t have to make the tragic choice between food and medicine, for people with pre-existing conditions who won’t get turned away by insurance companies, and for young adults who won’t get thrown off their parents’ policies. The decision allows us to build on the remarkable progress we have made so far and brings us closer to what my uncle spent his career fighting for — the idea that health care is not just a basic need, but also a basic right.”
As we remember Teddy 1932-2009.
"We were incredibly close, all of us, through all our younger years and after. The Cape house was our base. Our whole lives were centered in this one place. It was all here — all the playing, all the enjoyment, all the fun. For me it still is. And always shall be."
— Senator Edward Kennedy in his memoir, True Compass
History of the Kennedy Cape House in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts
When Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy purchased the home at 50 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port on October 31, 1928, they could not have known the important place it would hold both to their family and to American history.
Few families have impacted American life in such far-reaching ways as the Kennedy family, and it all begins with nine siblings and two amazing parents. The home in Hyannis Port, described by Senator Kennedy as “the base,” is the place where values were taught, lessons were learned, characters were built, and history-making events took shape.
It is the place from which three United States Senators grew up, one of whom became President. It was home to the Kennedy sisters, who dedicated their lives to people with intellectual disabilities by founding the Special Olympics and the Very Special Arts. Their contributions through numerous charitable works have touched the lives of millions of Americans.
The history of the house dates back to 1904. Beulah A.B. Malcom had a 15-room, white clapboard house built at 50 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port, Mass. The site was about two and a half acres, with a lawn running down to Nantucket Sound.
The Kennedys rented the house for the summer for several years before purchasing it themselves. At time of the purchase the house, the family included seven of the Kennedys’ eventual nine children. Over the next two decades the house was remodeled and expanded to accommodate the growing family.
John F. Kennedy purchased a nearby home in 1956, and shortly thereafter his brother Robert also purchased a neighboring house. For a time Jean Kennedy Smith and her husband Stephen E. Smith owned a home in the neighborhood as well. This cluster of family residences became known as “The Kennedy Compound.” Eunice and Sargent Shriver owned a home nearby as well.
The Kennedy family became an integral part of the local community. They considered this area their home. In 1957, to honor eldest son Joseph P. Kennedy, killed in World War II, Mr. Kennedy donated $150,000 toward the construction of a skating center in Hyannis because, as he said in the letter dedicating the center, “Here, in this lovely and friendly area our son Joe and his brothers and sisters lived and laughed and grew through many sunny and happy days.” (The Fruitful Bough, 1965)
"One of the first things that I remember on arriving at your home was the regular noontime swims with you and Mr. Kennedy and all the children down at the Taggart’s pier. The children all looked forward to being with you and displaying their swimming and diving ability and how they improved. It was great fun when you and Mr. Kennedy would form a big circle with the older children and then Teddy, Jean and Bobby would swim first to the nearest them and gradually work up to the farthest away."
—Elizabeth Dunn Anderson, a governess writing a recollection about Mrs. Rose Kennedy in Grace Above Gold (1997)
As the children grew, they spent the summers learning to sail and swim in the waters of Hyannis Port. The competitive touch football games, made so famous in iconic family photos, were also a regular occurrence on the large lawn adjacent to the house.
When remembering his brother Joe Kennedy, John F. Kennedy wrote, “We would spend long hours throwing football with Bobby, swimming with Teddy, and teaching the younger girls how to sail.” Younger brother Teddy had his own memory of his big brother, when Joe threw him into the cold water during a sailing race. “I was scared to death practully. I then heard a splash and I felt his hand grab my shirt and then he lifted me into the boat. We continued the race and came in second.” (As We Remember Joe, 1945, with young Teddy’s uncorrected spelling.)
Their time learning these skills impacted them throughout their lives. Senator Edward Kennedy attributed to those swimming lessons his brother John’s survival in the water for days when his PT boat sunk during World War II. The competitive streaks that became ingrained in the family were evident during political fights in the years to come.
Growing up at the house, the children were also exposed to various leaders and dignitaries who came to visit Joseph Kennedy, who joined the Roosevelt Administration, first as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1934 and then as head of the Maritime Commission in 1937. Prominent visitors joined the children’s friends as guests for dinner, and one frequent presence was Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston.
The house was also the site of major political decisions. In August 1945, John F. Kennedy, decided to run for the House of Representatives in 1946, the first of his six winning elections. In the spring of 1952, the family house was the site of meetings to plan JFK’s successful campaign for the Senate that year against the Republican incumbent, Henry Cabot Lodge. Political aides of JFK, like Larry O’Brien and Kenny O’Donnell were frequent guests. And in November 1956, John F. Kennedy, in consultation with his family, decided that he would seek the Presidency in 1960.
On Election Night 1960 and the day after, many members of the family stayed at the house as they gathered to follow returns and then celebrate JFK’s victory. The well-known post victory family photo, with President-elect and Mrs. Kennedy, his parents, siblings, and their spouses, was taken in the living room of the house.
Throughout the summer in 1961, on weekends, JFK’s helicopter would land on the lawn after he flew in to nearby Otis Air Force base. That summer he stayed at his own house, and met with Administration officials there. But in 1962 and 1963, seeking greater privacy, JFK rented homes on Squaw Island, a half mile away, where his youngest brother, Edward M. Kennedy, had a home. Visitors like Averell Harriman came to report on negotiations that produced the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The National Security Council met at Squaw Island in 1963.
In July 1982, the house became the main residence of Senator Edward Kennedy. A few months later, he gathered ten family members, including nieces, nephews, and his own three children, for a meeting to talk about whether he should run for President again in 1984. They held the meeting on the day after Thanksgiving next door at President Kennedy’s old house, and he was persuaded not to run, but rather to make the Senate his life. His children were the most decisive voice. In December 1985, he decided not to run in 1988 and assembled staffers and associates at the house to tell them and to make arrangements to tell the country.
He still used the house in connection with his Senate duties, making it a command center in the summer of 1987 as he prepared for hearings on the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, and in the summer of 2005 as he prepared for hearings on the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But it was largely a place of respite, where he sailed, relaxed, and entertained, delighting in showing visitors the historic pictures that crowd the walls, and the theater from which, as a boy, he was ushered off to bed when the movie action turned romantic. Governors, Senators, President Clinton, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and a series of Irish Prime ministers were among his guests. Some came for events, but many came just to talk in the morning and sail in the afternoon. Members of the extended Kennedy family returned every Thanksgiving.
In a rare formal function at the house, on September 23, 2008, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile presented Senator Kennedy with her nation’s Order of Merit, a human rights award for his support of democracy in Chile.
Sadly, the Kennedy family has weathered tragedies both public and private. It was September 1939 when the war changed the Kennedys’ lives dramatically. Joseph P. Kennedy was serving as ambassador in London, doubtful about Britain’s chances, when war broke out. He promptly sent his wife and children home, to the house on the Cape and their other homes in Bronxville and Palm Beach. Then on Sunday afternoon, August 13, 1944, two priests came to the Cape house to tell Joe and Rose that their eldest son, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., a Navy pilot, had been killed in action.
Their second son, John F. Kennedy was on hand, recuperating after heroism in the Pacific. To cheer the other children up, he took them out sailing that afternoon. Nearly four years later, most of the family gathered again at the house after receiving the news that Kathleen Kennedy Hartington, the Kennedys’ fourth child, had died in a plane crash in France.
On November 22, 1963, Senator Edward Kennedy and his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, flew up to Hyannis Port from Washington to tell their father that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas.
Several years later at the house, on November 16, 1969, Joseph P. Kennedy, 81, died. His beloved wife Rose lived to be 104, passing away also in the home on January 22, 1995.
On May 17, 2008, Senator Kennedy was in his beloved Cape house when he felt the effects of what would be later diagnosed as a malignant brain tumor. On June 2 he underwent surgery at the Duke University Medical Center and returned home to the Cape to recuperate. Later that summer he worked at the house on the speech he would deliver at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, saying Barack Obama as President “will close the book on the old politics” and lead a “renewal for our nation.”
On August 25, 2009, in the home where it all began, Senator Kennedy died at the age of 77.
"There is nothing half so pleasant as coming home again."
—Margaret Elizabeth Sangster (American poet and editor)
The Kennedy family has been coming home to Hyannis Port since the early 1920’s and continues to, to this day. The house on 50 Marchant Avenue has been the site of numerous family weddings, baptisms, and other celebrations. Most recently, Senator Kennedy’s son, Patrick was married in the summer of 2011 at the house.
In fulfilling his mother’s wishes that the home be preserved and open to the public in some way, Senator Kennedy made preparations for the donation of the house to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. His widow Vicki Kennedy gifted the home to the Institute in December 2011.
BOSTON, Jan. 30, 2012 - The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate announced today that ownership of the Kennedy family’s property at 50 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port has been gifted to the EMK Institute, in keeping with the wishes of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy and his widow Victoria R. Kennedy. This generous gift fulfills a promise made by Senator Kennedy to his mother Rose that the home be preserved for charitable use. This property was the backdrop to some of the most memorable events in Kennedy history and a team of experts in national historic preservation will be assembled, lead by a renowned presidential historian, to provide guidance on programming and operations of the home.
"From our earliest discussions about the EMK Institute, Teddy and I dreamed of a place that would encourage public engagement and inspire political leadership in future generations. The acceptance of the gift of this historic home in Hyannis Port is a significant step forward in fulfilling that mission," said Vicki Kennedy. "This special home and the family of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy were at the center of many memorable events in the history of our country. It was at this home that the family learned the lesson that shaped their lives, which is that each of us can make a difference and all of us should try. In making this gift to the EMK Institute, Teddy and I hoped this American landmark would remain a dynamic place that reflected the contributions and commitment to this great nation displayed by the extended Kennedy family. We hoped it would help inspire future generations of Americans to be involved and make a difference as well."
"This house was my family’s epicenter, where my grandparents, father, uncles and aunts would retreat to connect with one another through heated political debates in the dining room and rousing games on the front lawn. Over the generations, we have returned to Hyannis Port in times of both happiness and pain. We have come to celebrate baptisms and marriages, await election results, and grieve the passing of our relatives," said Ted Kennedy, Jr. "Even though my family still considers Hyannis Port to be our home, we recognize that this house is a unique and historic place that should be preserved so that future students of history and politics will better understand how this house helped to develop, define and sustain my family."
Preservation of Historic Home
Recognizing the special history and importance of the home, the EMK Institute will assemble a team of experts in historic preservation who will offer recommendations on usage, programming and public visitations. Renowned presidential historian Michael Beschloss has agreed to serve the Institute as an advisor and will help evaluate the recommendations of the advisory team. Beschloss has authored eight books on presidential history, is a regular contributor to PBS NewsHour and NBC News, and is a trustee of the White House Historical Association and the National Archives Foundation.
"This world-famous house is a national treasure, the setting in which this great American political family made history, year after year, for nearly a century. Like Hyde Park for the Roosevelts or Quincy for the Adamses, if you want to really understand Joseph and Rose Kennedy, President Kennedy and his brothers and sisters, and their families, you will have to go to Hyannis Port," said Beschloss. "The gift of the house to the EMK Institute is an exceptional act of generosity by the Kennedy family, which will have an impact on generations of visitors."
The house at 50 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port is the backdrop to many famous Kennedy moments captured by film and photo. This is where the Kennedy children learned to swim and sail, and where the traditional touch football games were played. It is the place where countless political discussions were held and major political decisions made. President Kennedy hosted meetings with dignitaries and administration officials at this historic home. This home was central to a remarkable family which produced three United States Senators, one who went on to become President, and influential daughters who have impacted American society through the Special Olympics and Very Special Arts. The extended Kennedy family continues to make a positive impact on a range of issues through other nonprofit organizations such as the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
"When I think about my childhood, it’s the summers at the Cape that come to mind most frequently," said Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. "My parents created a very loving and exciting environment for our entire family here. Through their guidance and enthusiasm we developed our deep interest in American history and a very real desire to give back to our country in some capacity what we had received. It is a great tribute to my parents that it will now permanently be a place where thoughts and ideas are exchanged, and new generations of leaders can come for inspiration and guidance."
EMK Institute Plans
The EMK Institute (http://emkinstitute.org/) hopes to use the home to support and enhance its mission of educating the public about the U.S. government, invigorating public discourse, emphasizing the importance of bipartisanship, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the public square. Specifically, it is expected that the main house will host selected educational seminars and forums organized by the EMK Institute. In addition, it is expected that the property will also host programs on behalf of other institutions.
The EMK Institute also recognizes the desire that exists on the part of the general public to visit this historic site. They will work with the panel of national historic preservation experts, area neighbors and Town of Barnstable officials over time to create an appropriate schedule of public visitations to the house. Chairman of the Board of the EMK Institute Lee Fentress emphasized, “The Institute is committed to ensure that the residential character of the property is preserved and the privacy of the surrounding neighborhood is respected.”
In giving this gift, Vicki Kennedy has given away her rights to the property. In addition to receiving title to the property, a $3.2 million donation from the Committee to Re-Elect Edward M. Kennedy campaign fund has been made to the EMK Institute in order to fund maintenance and operational costs associated with the house. No federal funds will be used to support property upkeep or operations.
"Senator Kennedy’s life was rooted in public service, enriched by his love of history and fueled by his commitment to enhance civic engagement," stated Fentress. "It is not at all surprising, then, that he and Vicki Kennedy together planned for their home in Hyannis Port to serve to pass on the Senator’s legacy of giving back and inspiring leadership. We are extremely grateful to the Kennedy family for this generous gift and entrusting this cherished and historic home to the Institute’s care."
"My father had great passion for the United States Senate. It was his life for many years. There could be no greater testament to his legacy than allowing the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate to turn this home into a place of learning," said Congressman Patrick Kennedy. "My aunts and uncles all felt a special connection to this home and the surrounding area. I hope visitors will be inspired by the contributions they made to our country and will in turn make their own unique contribution to society."
Kennedy Family Usage of Property
The Kennedy family will have limited usage of the property going forward. There are longstanding easements on the property, granting beach access to Kennedy family members who own adjacent properties, which will remain in effect as part of the deed transfer. It is also expected that the Institute will enter into a rental agreement allowing Kennedy family members limited access to the grounds for recreational purposes.
Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy purchased the property at 50 Marchant Street on October 31, 1928.
The home was originally a 15-room white clapboard house on about two and a half acres, with a lawn running down to Nantucket Sound.
The home today sits on 1.93 acres and is 9,055 square feet.