Sunday, April 11, 2010

RICHARD NEWTON KENNEDY, JR - RIP

The other day I learned through compatriot Ken Medernach that mutual good Friend Richard Newton Kennedy, Jr. of Dunwoody, Georgia had passed following a long and courageous fight with throat cancer. Dick was spot on – one of the most admired and unforgettable characters that I have ever met. He was born and raised in Chatham County / Savannah, Georgia, attended the University of Georgia where he embraced all things historical and the Kappa Alpha Order (KA). With my degree in anthropology and an abiding interest in militaria especially the French & Indian War and WWI, we had a lot to talk about… He was an eager and very able, hands-on educator.

While a Son of the South and revering the memory of General Robert E. Lee, Dick was also part of the new frontier, embracing history and looking forward at the same time. He was a strong proponent that the past is prologue and taught us to remember and cherish all that is right and good (and some bad) about our past - using that as the basis for our life’s journey. He was mentor, teacher, example extraordinaire and remains an inspiration to all that knew him.

In a world gone sideways Dick Kennedy was simply the most congenial person I have ever known. That view is shared by folks from all walks of life that knew him. He could have been a very successful politician though he was certainly most comfortable engaging all things historical and especially when it related to arms and militaria.

Dick took an incredible intellect and that body of knowledge and moved to Atlanta in the early sixties where he established The Gun Room in Smyrna, an enterprise that he operated until his passing. It was the preferred meeting place for a wide demographic, perhaps as varied as our world itself.

The Gun Room was always a refuge sought frequently by me where Friendship, good conversation and cup of coffee were always available. Whether you wanted to discuss the merits of the Short Land (second pattern) Brown Bess, the role of the Enfield in the Civil War, the politics of the time or just chew the fat, then this was the place to do it. It seemed at times that I could have used The Gun Room as my permanent address.

With a passion for Family, Friends and History (especially antique arms), Dick Kennedy was my guide and mentor for many years. His cool, objective and always right on observations and appraisals were an inspiration to those who wanted to share his world. Indeed, he was considered one of the foremost authorities on antique arms and militaria in the world and for several seasons was honored as a featured and highly respected appraiser on PBS’s most popular Antiques Roadshow.

We enjoyed mutual membership in several organizations to include The Old Guard of the Gate City Guard of Atlanta and the reraised 78th Fraser Highlanders, 2nd Battalion of Foot, Fort New Inverness Garrison of Georgia. Dick’s leadership and camaraderie allowed organizations like the Fraser Highlanders to pursue their objectives at the very highest level.

Until Dick became ill I could always count on him to call me every January 19th in order to toast the birthday and memory of Robert E. Lee. He always found me in disparate parts of our country to engage this tradition. Dick admired Lee not just as the inspiration for the Kappa Alpha Order, a Son of Virginia and Commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, but as the iconic leader who embraced “duty and honor” (at any price) and following the war encouraged and facilitated reconciliation. Few know that Lincoln originally offered Lee the command of the US Union forces…

Ken Medernach (who grew up with Dick in Savannah) and this writer at 3:00 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time on Saturday April 10, 2010 (the start time of Dick’s funeral in Norcross, GA) stood up, raised our glasses high and toasted the memory of Richard N. Kennedy, Father, Grandfather, Husband, Mentor and Friend. Ladies and Gentlemen, likewise please be upstanding and when the opportunity arises, raise your glasses high to the memory of this extraordinary Man. My toast was a fine Chivas 18 year old that just continues to get better with each passing day. Apologies to Dick that it wasn’t a 30 year old Lagavulin.

Please note that this post is but a thumbnail sketch of a Man who was many things to many different folks. Dick was to most a Man of all seasons and he was and is My Friend.

Before Might of Right engaged this post we Googled Dick and expected to find a plethora of material to include his many papers and articles and found absolutely nothing? We realized that most of his work came prior to the advent of the Internet and hasn’t made it to that level. We will try and fill that gap so that those interested can gage and appreciate the merit of this exceptional person. Having said that, there is no doubt that no amount of words, however eloquent, can describe the monumental character and breadth of this Man.

Beat the drums slowly and then celebrate the remarkable life and contributions of Richard Kennedy who provided us the ultimate example of a life well lived. Dick (aka Sir Sigmund) now resides in that green valley with all the other heroes of The Kingdome of Räknar. Our sincere and heartfelt condolences to wife and Milady Vickie, daughter Laurie, son Ben and granddaughters Georgia and Piper Kennedy.

Well done and rest well…

Respectfully, Aye

Ned Buxton

2 comments:

Jack said...

Well said, Ned, Dick was a remarkable fellow, not to be forgotten by those who met him, or knew him.
VSgt. Jack Riddle

David Neale said...

Thank you, Ned , for a very moving tribute.
I knew Dick and his lovely bride Vickie through my friendship with thier daughter and I found him to be a wealth of knowledge and personality. It was a pleasure to have known him and my thoughts continue to be with his loving family.
Thank you again.
David Neale