Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy was born February 20, 1920 the second daughter of Joe and Rose Kennedy. She was vibrant and merry even as a child. Her nickname was "Kick" and she was JFK's favorite sister. Kick was attractive but not what you would call beautiful. She was one of those people whose personality made her sparkle. She had excellent taste in clothes and was always fashionably dressed. She also had impeccable manners and a grace of her own. Following Joe Kennedy's service as Embassador to Britain Kick returned to England to serve with the Red Cross.

During her service in the Red Cross she married William Cavendish, the Marquess of Hartington. Her marriage caused a large rift in the Kennedy family, her mother Rose was beside herself that Kathleen married a non-Catholic and would not speak to Kick for a long time afterward. Kick's brother Joseph Kennedy Jr. served as best man at her wedding and wrote to his father "tell mother not to worry about what people say" in a show of support. Joe Kennedy Sr. sent Kick a telegraph after her wedding that everything would be alright and Jack (JFK) supported her too. Her sister Eunice, devoutly Catholic, sided with mother Rose and felt that Kick had been wrongly influenced. In the end it did not matter because four short months later William Cavendish was killed in action while serving in the British Army.
Kathleen Kennedy and William Cavendish wedding photo. Kathleen's brother Joe Jr. is behind her.

Kick stayed on in London and after the war became involved with a married man, Peter Fitzwilliam. They boarded a plane for a pleasure trip to France and planned to meet up with Kick's father Joe Kennedy Sr. The plane crashed into a mountain on May 13, 1948 and they were both killed. At the time Jack and his sister Eunice were sharing an apartment in Washington, D.C. Eunice received the call that Kick had been killed and told Jack who cried at the news. Kick was well loved in England and over 500 people attended her funeral. The only Kennedy in attendance was her father Joe Sr. Mother Rose had not forgiven her for marrying a non-Catholic and did not approve of her relationship with Peter Fitzwilliam. Kathleen was buried in the Cavendish family plot (her late husband's family) in Derbyshire, England. Her grave looks rather neglected and lonely. Her brother Jack did not visit the grave until he was President of the United States and some of her family including her mother never visited the grave.

When a historian was writing a book about the Kennedy family he stated that he had a hard time describing Kick on paper. She was one of those people who lit up a room and was well liked by everyone she met. He said "It had been over 50 years since her death and grown men that I talked to had tears in their eyes when they talked to me about Kick." She made quite an impact on the people in England. I think it is a shame that her mother was so unforgiving towards her, Rose's words upon hearing of her daughter's death were "God saw what was going on and pointed and said NO!".


  1. I found this story about Kathleen Kennedy to be very interesting! What I found interesting is that her Mother Rose did not approve of her daughter not marrying a Catholic so she shunned her. I think that this is very sad, to let your religion cause you to be shunned by your own mother! That is not love!

  2. Rose Kennedy was a vindictive religious zealot. A very unchristian attitude with a cold unforgiving heart. She may have given birth, but was NO mother!
    In her short tragic life Kathleen made people happy with her kind and gracious personality. Her death was still mourned years later by those who knew her. RIP Kick.

  3. Her smile was so vibrant and beautiful. I wish I could have known her.

  4. Perhaps a member of the Kennedy family who happens to be visiting the U.K. could visit Kathleen's grave and clean it up as a sign of respect.

  5. I had never known the story of Kick Kennedy until recently reading the book "Black Diamonds" by Catherine Bailey. Then I followed up with Internet search. I'm surprised that it hasn't been made into a movie--with or without permission! Interesting but sad with a vibrant young life so tragically ended and an unforgiving mother.