Leola Kennedy: 1923-2014

Leola Kennedy: 1923-2014

Councilman’s mother dies after lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease

By André Coleman 01/09/2014

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Leola Sudduth Kennedy, mother of Pasadena City Councilman John Kennedy and activist Lena Kennedy, died on Jan. 2 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer ’s disease compounded by several strokes. She was 89.    

Kennedy is survived by eight children, 15 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Thomas Foster Kennedy, her brother Michael and her sister Gladys. 

Born in Starksville, Miss., on June 29, 1923, in 1944 then-Leola Sudduth came to Pasadena, where she met Michael Kennedy. After the couple married, they moved to a house on Hammond Street where Leola lived until her death Thursday.

“My mother was a very basic person,” John Kennedy told the Weekly. “She treated everybody fairly. God and church were at the center of her life. She instilled high moral values in all of her children and she extended her life over three years just to prepare her children for her ultimate death. I have met a lot of women in my life and no one measures up to the quality and caliber of my mother.” 

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Metropolitan Baptist Church, 2283 Fair Oaks Ave., Altadena. 

“Some may call Leola Kennedy a saint,” reads a statement issued by members of the Kennedy family. “But she was simply interested in making life better for others on earth.”

The family is asking donations be made to the Pasadena Community Foundation where the foundation has established the Leola Sudduth and Thomas Foster Kennedy Scholarship fund. 

Checks made payable to PCF with “Kennedy Fund” written in the memo line can be mailed to 260 S. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, Calif., 91101. Online donations can also be made by selecting Kennedy Fund at the PCF Web site at www.pasadenacf.org  

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