His full name was Harvey Edward Kennedy. But he liked to be called just Ed.

He earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and microbiology at North Carolina State University. But he never introduced himself as “Doctor.”

Mr. Kennedy was so modest that his daughter, Connie, didn’t know all he had done until she went through his papers.

Dorothy Childress Kennedy was a teacher who brought people together in the classroom and at the dinner table. She taught third grade, and later volunteered with special-needs students.

At home, she liked to entertain their wide circle of friends and make dramatic entrances with her flaming Baked Alaska.

“Theirs was truly a marriage of love,” the family said in a tribute, “and together they provided their children with a wonderful experience of growing up."

Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy died of COVID-19 five days apart at an assisted living residence in Chapel Hill, N.C. Mrs. Kennedy, 90, died on Sunday, July 12. Mr. Kennedy, 91, died on Friday, July 17.

Mrs. Kennedy’s birthday would have been on Aug. 10, and their 69th wedding anniversary would have been on Aug. 18.

“They did so many things, but they were always there for us, too,” their daughter said. “We did things together. Then they would go do things for other people and the benefit of the community. They did more than I could imagine. I don’t know how they found time for us.”

The Kennedys were indeed a busy couple. He grew up in Wayne County, N.C., and earned degrees from Atlantic Christian College (now Barton) and North Carolina State.

Mrs. Kennedy was born in Rocky Mount, N.C., and grew up in Raleigh. She got a bachelor’s degree in primary education at Meredith College and taught third grade at two Raleigh schools in the 1950s.

At first, Mr. Kennedy worked on microbiological research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and taught at Ohio State University. The couple moved to Milltown, N.J., when he got an industrial research job at Johnson & Johnson.

Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy, here at their wedding, would have celebrated 69 years of marriage on Aug. 18, 2020.
Courtesy of the family
Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy, here at their wedding, would have celebrated 69 years of marriage on Aug. 18, 2020.

An expert in scientific information transfer, Mr. Kennedy joined Biological Abstracts/BIOSIS (Biological Sciences Information Service) in Philadelphia in 1967. The family moved to Swarthmore, and Mr. Kennedy helped BIOSIS, a scientific indexing company, transition from print to digital transfer. He retired as company president in 1993.

Mrs. Kennedy left teaching full time when her daughter and son, Jeff, were born. But she stayed on as a substitute in New Jersey in the 1960s.

Despite their workloads and love of family life, the couple were active in their community. Mr. Kennedy was involved in many organizations, and was elected president of several national and international scientific and publishing groups. He served on the committee on Science and the Arts of the Franklin Institute, and was a charter board member of the Society for Scholarly Publishing.

Mrs. Kennedy worked as a volunteer for special-needs students in the 1970s and ’80s at the Old Forge School in Lima. She was a docent at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and later was a member of many groups in North Carolina.

At home, the Kennedys were a delight, their daughter said. Mrs. Kennedy would fill the house with friends and host elegant dinner parties in their formal dining room. She loved to sew, and made her own wedding dress. Later, she made matching dresses for herself and her daughter.

Mrs. Kennedy was a sculptor and played the piano. She created handmade greeting cards with photos of the family dogs and sent them to friends.

Mr. Kennedy rode the family horses with his daughter, and served as her unofficial business adviser. He painted and sculpted, did his own gardening, and was good at fixing things around the house. He liked antiques and salvaged throwaway furniture to repurpose for their beach house. As a family, they always had dogs, and Mr. Kennedy walked at least one of them practically every night.

Despite their busy schedules, Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy always found time for their family.
Courtesy of the family
Despite their busy schedules, Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy always found time for their family.

In addition to their children, Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy are survived by three grandsons. He is survived by two brothers, and nephews and nieces. She is survived by a nephew.

Their combined ashes are to be interred in the memorial rose garden at University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill.

— Gary Miles, gmiles@inquirer.com