St. Johnsbury, VT: James Kennedy Obituary
James Harold Kennedy passed away December 16, 2023, after a lengthy illness.
Jim was born in Burlington on April 10, 1946, to Marylyn Sleeper and Harold Walling Kennedy of Waterbury Center, the middle of three children. Jimmy spent his first years in Montreal before settling in St. Johnsbury in 1952. Jimmy failed sandbox but was good at math. Very active in the Boy Scouts of America (B.S.A.), he was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout in ’61, was on staff at the Mt. Norris camp and graduated from STJA in ’64. He joined the Navy and was chosen to lead a group of fellow Vermont men at the Great Lakes near Chicago. He spent the Vietnam war in Edinburgh doing intelligence work related to signal multiplexing. Once back in Vermont, he graduated from Lyndon State College with a degree in mathematics education, served on Ski Patrol at Burke Mountain and married Elizabeth (Liz) Stevens and raised Jen and Rob. He worked for Crawford as a Fire Insurance adjuster but refused a transfer to New Jersey or Massachusetts. Instead, while enjoying his ritual coffee at Anthony’s Diner, he opted to buy Aubin’s Jewelry despite having no prior retail or jewelry experience. He learned to repair jewelry and Kennedy’s Jewelry survived through sheer determination of Jim and Liz and later Jen and Rob. They moved the store to Main St. in St. J and weathered four St. J locations and a devastating fire but managed to supply the NEK with quality jewelry sales and service. He performed the repairs in store at his workbench and would even accept sentimental projects that would otherwise be lost. Most weekdays either featured Jim behind his bench or on the golf course with a sign on the door in rhyming stanzas to convey that he was gone golfing and loved the NEK. He was deeply involved in St J Country Club alongside his father. Golfing was Jim’s passion and it brought him to Myrtle Beach each winter and to Ireland with dear friends. Service was also close to Jim’s heart and he was a leader in the local Kiwanis club. Serving as both president and lieutenant governor for Kiwanis, he travelled, family in tow, to New England District conferences and was a vocal supporter of opening membership to women. Jim was instrumental in the annual auction, collecting advertiser support and serving as auctioneer for the Super Specials’ group many years. He started a Super Bowl Raffle which raised thousands of dollars to support Kiwanis’ Community Tennis Courts and Pool which taught kids to swim for free. Jim was also a member of the Elks club and enjoyed washing dishes for big events as it had the fortunate side effect of actually getting his hands clean of his metalwork. Jim was active in South Congregational Church and also the St Johnsbury Players for many years behind the light board and on later on-stage, including the starring role as Juan Perone in Evita. In his later years Jim loved to sing, whistle and hum, strategize his scratch tickets and watch the seasons change while driving around the NEK.
He is survived by his daughter, Jennifer Lynn Kennedy and his son, Robert Harold Kennedy and Robert’s spouse Julie Therien and their four children, Tilden Lev Kennedy, Anza Fae Kennedy, Revel Sequoia Kennedy and Kepler Lyell Kennedy.
A Celebration of Life will take place in St. Johnsbury this spring/summer to be announced.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at saylesfh.com