Joel Kennedy: 1944-2014

Posted On August 1st, 2014 -

Strong ethics led isle communicator
By Rosemarie Bernardo

A consummate public relations professional, Joel B. Kennedy took pride representing companies and organizations.

He had high standards for his career, said his wife of 51 years, Ann Kennedy, adding he had strong ethics and was a perfectionist.

Kennedy, of Hawi, died June 23. He was 69.

Born in Honolulu to Episcopal Bishop Harry and Katharine Kennedy, he grew up in Nuu­anu and Kahala with his four brothers. He attended ‘Iolani School and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Colo­rado College. Thereafter he was drafted into the Army and served in the Vietnam War before returning to Hawaii.

Following his military service, Kennedy delved into public relations with a career in corporate communications that spanned more than 30 years.

At GTE Hawaiian Tel, Kennedy started as a public information assistant and later was promoted to vice president of public affairs. He spent 18 years with the company.

In 1991 Kennedy became vice president of corporate communications for the Queen’s Health Systems and served in the post for 11 years. From 2004 to 2005 he served as communications director for the state House of Representatives.

State Rep. and former House Speaker Calvin Say described Kennedy as a true professional in his dealings with the media and members of the House. “His responses to the media were direct, simple and to the point. He was an excellent communicator and respected by the legislators who sought his counsel and advice,” Say said in an emailed statement.

His wife said Kennedy also was an attentive father to their two children. “He had a lot of pride in what he did and a lot of love and pride for his family.”

Kennedy was involved in multiple professional and nonprofit organizations such as the Hawaiian Humane Society, where he served on the board.

In 2005 he and his wife retired to Hawi on Hawaii island, where he revived The Kohala Mountain News and served as its managing editor. He also initiated fundraising efforts to help supply the North Kohala Public Library with books and office equipment.

Kennedy’s wife said he will be best remembered for his strong values. He was genuine and humble with a great sense of humor, she said.

Kennedy is also survived by brothers Bruce, David and Mark (his fraternal twin); children Carole Kennedy Alvarado and Scott Kennedy; son-in-law Billy Alvarado; grandchildren Malia and Lucas Alvarado; and his dog Beau.

A private family memorial service was held for Kennedy. His ashes were scattered in waters off Kahala near his childhood home.

Those who want to make a donation in Kennedy’s memory may do so to the Hawaiian Humane Society or PBS Hawaii.

Joel B. Kennedy: The public relations pro also revived a  Big Island newspaper (COURTESY KENNEDY FAMILY)

Joel B. Kennedy: The public relations pro also revived a Big Island newspaper (COURTESY KENNEDY FAMILY)

Posted in Featured

- Denotes U.S. Military Veteran