JOE KENNEDY OBITUARY
Joseph Edward Kennedy, a longtime resident of the North Shore, passed from this life in his sleep on July 15. He was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1948 To Edward and Dorothy Kennedy. After graduating from Chicago schools, he attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Summer fieldwork at Lapakahi, Kohala, in 1969 and a master’s degree in anthropology at the University of Hawaii in 1974 set Joe on a career in Hawaiian archaeology, where he became well known and respected as the principal of Archaeological Consultants of Hawaii and later Archaeological Consultants of the Pacific He conducted archaeological research in American Samoa and in Micronesia, and he participated in excavations in Guatemala and in Egypt.
Kennedy’s archaeological survey of Waimea Valley, Oahu, in 2005 documented the importance of the valley to Hawaii’s history. It led the City and County of Honolulu to take measures to preserve Waimea after initially voting to allow development there. A pristine Waimea valley is one of his lasting gifts to Hawaii.
Kennedy was a prolific and diverse author, with several books to his credit that were outside the realm of Cultural Resources Management and Heritage Archaeology. His Coca Exotica, An Illustrated History of Cocaine, published by Associated University Presses in 1985 led to his lecturing extensively in academic circles on the history of coca and cocaine. The Tropical Frontier, America’s South Sea Colony, published by the Micronesian Archaeological Research Center and distributed by the University of Hawaii Press in 2009, was a benchmark history of U.S. hegemony in American Samoa. His historical survey The North Shore of Oahu appeared through Arcadia Press in 2011. Ruffian Dick, his fictionalized portrayal of the famous anthropologist Sir Richard Burton, is currently under review by publishers through his agent, Peter Riva.
In addition to numerous contract reports in Pacific archaeology, Kennedy was a frequent contributor to Natural History, Discovering Archaeology, Archaeology, Discover, Geoarchaeology and other outlets, including the University of Chicago’s Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, where he examined the potential for the return of Smallpox to the planet earth. He edited the legendary but short-lived journal Native Planters, which he started with others in 1982 to highlight the agricultural heritage of the Hawaiian Islands. He was a founding member and a treasurer and past president of the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, a Principal Humanities Scholar for the California Council on the Humanities, and a recipient of the Historic Hawaii Foundation’s Preservation Award. s
Joseph Kennedy leaves behind his special friend Voralak Riensuwan of Bangkok, Thailand, cousins in Chicago, Illinois, as well as countless friends around the world, who appreciated his wry humor, his love of dogs, baseball, and the Chicago Cubs, as well as his willingness to welcome one and all at his compound on the North Shore of Oahu. He is remembered as a gracious host and a raconteur of note, whose Pacific stories rivaled those of Michener, London, Day, and Beck for their color and their insights into life in the Pacific Islands. He had the uncommon ability to tell a great story and make one laugh as well as an equally uncommon capacity for friendship. His charismatic personality acted as a magnet, drawing people to him and to each other and affecting their lives in deep and positive ways. Joe Kennedy will be deeply missed, and we hope that a gentle mist will fall at his memorial service as Hawaii mourns his passing.