Samuel Kennedy III dies

Samuel Kennedy III dies

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Samuel V. Kennedy III was known by friends and family as a quiet man, a witty man, a stern man, a kind man, a father, a teacher, a boss, a mentor, a friend, someone who silently watched out for people and gave them confidence.

Kennedy, 75, died Monday in Painted Post, surrounded by his family.

The well-known Auburn native was a graduate of Cornell University and earned a doctoral degree from Syracuse University, where he taught journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications for 25 years, retiring in 2001. He was the former chair of the school's newspaper department.

Aileen Gallagher, assistant professor in the Newhouse magazine department, had Kennedy as a professor for reporting and newspaper editing. One of her favorite memories of him involves one of his classic copy editing exercises.

"One of his copy editing examples involved a story about a liquor store being robbed and the thieves taking a case of Old Grandfather, and the mistake we had to fix was that it was Old Grand-Dad bourbon," Gallagher said.

Gallagher and her classmates bought Kennedy a bottle of Old Grand-Dad at graduation.

Before he taught at Syracuse, Kennedy was the managing editor of The Citizen-Advertiser, a predecessor of The Citizen in Auburn. He worked at the paper from 1960-75.

In 1961, Kennedy founded the Auburn Players Community Theatre and subsequently directed more than 50 plays.

Bob Frame, director of theater operations at Cayuga Community College, met Kennedy more then 30 years ago.

"Sam was a great man," Frame said. "I've known him since I moved here in 1979."

Frame said Kennedy directed the first show for which Frame did the lighting, and Frame recalls memorable cast parties at the Kennedy home in Skaneateles.

Dia Carabajal, an at-large board member of the Auburn Players, met Kennedy when she was 18 and played a small role in a play.

"He always had the ability to have faith and confidence in people to bolster them up when maybe they didn't have that confidence," she said.

Carabajal recalls when he fired her from a show - the only time she's ever been fired.

"He fired me once," she said. "I was the producer for his show (The Curious Savage) and I just got too busy. I kept saying, 'OK, OK,' and my to-do list kept getting longer."

Carabajal said Kennedy called her up one day and told her she was too busy to do the show.

"I was absolutely relieved," she said. "I had too much on my plate and he recognized that."

Kennedy's three daughters, Lesley Kennedy, Larkin Kennedy and Mary Morgan Skilling, remember experiences and words shared with their father.

Mary Morgan Skilling recalls small trips she would take with her father looking for old buildings rich with history.

"We would look for old, abandoned farm houses and break in," she said, laughing.

Lesley Kennedy said she remembers acting in one of her father's shows, "Proof."

"I was unusually difficult to work with as an actor and my dad was very graceful about it," she said. "When he was interviewed, he said nothing but glowing things about me."

She said later, she told her father that he could have been more honest with her about how tough she was to work with.

"He said, 'Lesley, if I had raised any of my daughters to be anything other than difficult, I would consider myself a failure as a father,'" she said.

Larkin Kennedy said her father connected with his children based on what inspired them.

"He always found the little things in our lives we were interested in and he would find ways to connect with us through those," she said. "These are the little moments he had with each of us and it created amazing memories that we have of him."

Staff writer Kelly Voll can be reached at 282-2239 or kelly.voll@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at CitizenVoll.

 

 

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