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Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

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Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

For other people named Rose Kennedy, see Rose Kennedy (disambiguation).
Rose Kennedy
Rose Kennedy in 1967
Born Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald
(1890-07-22)July 22, 1890
Boston, Massachusetts
Died January 22, 1995(1995-01-22) (aged 104)
Hyannis, Massachusetts
Known for Kennedy family matriarch
Political party Democratic
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]
Spouse(s) Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr. (1888–1969)
Children Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr. (1915–1944)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917–1963)
Rose Marie Kennedy (1918–2005)
Kathleen Agnes Kennedy (1920–1948)
Eunice Mary Kennedy (1921–2009)
Patricia Helen Kennedy (1923–2006)
Robert Francis Kennedy (1925–1968)
Jean Ann Kennedy (b. 1928)
Edward Moore Kennedy (1932–2009)
Parents John Francis Fitzgerald
Mary Josephine Hannon
Signature Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy.

Early life

Born in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, Rose was the eldest of six children born to John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald and Mary Josephine "Josie" Hannon.[3] Honey Fitz was a prominent figure in Boston politics and served one full term and almost eight months of another in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as two terms as the Mayor of Boston.

As a young child, Rose lived in an Italianate/Mansard-style home in the Ashmont Hill section of Dorchester, Massachusetts and attended the local Girl's Latin School. The home later burned down, but a plaque at Welles Avenue and Harley Street proclaims "Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Square". The plaque was dedicated by her son, Senator Ted Kennedy, on Rose's 102nd birthday in 1992.

Rose studied at the convent school Kasteel Bloemendal in Vaals, The Netherlands, and graduated from Dorchester High School in 1906. She also attended the New England Conservatory in Boston where she studied piano.[4] After being refused permission by her father to attend Wellesley College, Fitzgerald enrolled at the Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart (as it was known at that time), an institution which did not grant degrees at the time. In 1908, Fitzgerald and her father embarked on a tour of Europe. She and "Honey Fitz" had a private audience with Pope St. Pius X at the Vatican.

Marriage and family life

On October 7, 1914, she married Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Sr. after a courtship of more than seven years. He was the elder son of Patrick Joseph "P. J." Kennedy (political rival of Honey Fitz) and Mary Augusta Hickey. They first lived in a home in Brookline that is now the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, and later a 15-room vacation home at Hyannis Port on Cape Cod, which became the Kennedy family’s lasting base. They had nine children.

Joe, Sr. provided well for their family, but was unfaithful. His affairs included one with Gloria Swanson. While eight months pregnant with Kick, Rose temporarily went back to her parents, but remained married. In turning a blind eye to her husband's affairs, Rose depended heavily on medication. Ronald Kessler found records for prescription tranquilizers Seconal, Placidyl, Librium, and Dalmane to relieve Rose's nervousness and stress, and Lomotil, Bentyl, Librax and Tagamet for her stomach.[5]

Rose was a devout Irish Catholic throughout her life. Even after her 100th birthday, she rarely missed Sunday Mass and maintained an “extremely prudish” exterior.[6] Rose's strict beliefs often placed her at odds with her children. She refused to attend her daughter Kathleen's wedding in 1944 to William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, an Anglican, who was the eldest son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire. Normal relations eventually resumed, particularly after the death of Kathleen's husband during World War II. However, when Kathleen herself died in a plane crash in 1948 (along with her new fiance, the 8th Earl FitzWilliam, a divorced Anglican), only her father attended her funeral and burial at the Devonshire family seat.

Rose stated that she felt completely fulfilled as a full-time homemaker. In her 1974 autobiography, Times to Remember, she wrote, "I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and a duty, but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best I could bring to it..... What greater aspiration and challenge are there for a mother than the hope of raising a great son or daughter?"[7]

Children

Name Birth Death Brief Biography Marriage and children Cause of death
Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Jr. July 25, 1915 August 12, 1944 United States Navy aviator Never married or had children, but was once engaged to Athalia Ponsell Naval airplane crash on August 12, 1944 over the English Channel
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy May 29, 1917 November 22, 1963 United States Representative (1947–1953)
United States Senator (1953–1960)
President of the United States (1961–1963)
Sept. 12, 1953 to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, had four children (including a stillbirth). Assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.
Rose Marie "Rosemary" Kennedy September 13, 1918 January 7, 2005 Underwent a lobotomy in 1941 which left her incapacitated; she was institutionalized from 1949 until her death. Never married or had children Natural causes
Kathleen Agnes "Kick" Kennedy February 20, 1920 May 13, 1948 Marchioness of Hartington Married on May 6, 1944 to William John Robert "Billy" Cavendish, never had children. Airplane crash over Saint-Bauzile, Ardèche, France.
Eunice Mary Kennedy July 10, 1921 August 11, 2009 International advocate for the developmentally disabled. Founded the Special Olympics. Married on May 23, 1953 to Robert Sargent "Sarge" Shriver, Jr., had five children. Natural causes
Patricia Helen "Pat" Kennedy May 6, 1924 September 17, 2006 Journalist and film production assistant Married on April 24, 1954 to British actor Peter Sydney Ernest Lawford, had four children; divorced in 1966. Complications from pneumonia
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy November 20, 1925 June 6, 1968 United States Attorney General (1961–1964)
United States Senator (1965–1968)
Married on June 17, 1950 to Ethel Skakel, had eleven children. Assassinated in 1968 in Los Angeles, California by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan.
Jean Ann Kennedy February 20, 1928 United States Ambassador to Ireland (1993–1998) Married on May 19, 1956 to Stephen Edward Smith, had two sons.
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy February 22, 1932 August 25, 2009 United States Senator (1962–2009) Married on November 29, 1958 to Virginia Joan Bennett, had three children; divorced on December 6, 1982. Remarried in 1992 to Victoria Anne Reggie; had no children. Brain cancer


Later years and death

After her son Jack became President in 1961, Rose "became a sort of quiet celebrity," appearing on the International Best Dressed List.[8] Most of her social activities consisted of involvement in charities and women’s groups. Rose also took brisk ocean swims outside her Cape Cod house in fifty-degree weather.

After suffering a stroke in 1984, Rose used a wheelchair for the remainder of her life. She maintained her residence at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts and was cared for by private nurses and staff. On January 22, 1995, she died from complications from pneumonia at the age of 104, having outlived her husband by a quarter of a century, she was survived by her 5 remaining children, 28 grandchildren and 41 great-grandchildren. She outlived Joe, Jr., Jack, Kick, and Bobby, her ex-son-in-law Peter Lawford, her son-in-law Stephen Edward Smith, her daughter-in-law Jackie, and three of her grandchildren, David, Arabella, and Patrick.

Mrs. Kennedy refused to attend her daughter Kathleen's 1948 funeral in England, and she was too frail to attend her daughter-in-law, Jackie's 1994 Funeral Mass in New York. However, she attend all other major events associated with her children during their life times.

Jean became the last surviving child after Ted died.[9]

Legacy

In 1951, Pope Pius XII granted Kennedy the title of countess in recognition of her "exemplary motherhood and many charitable works."

In 1992, when she turned 102, the intersection of Welles Avenue and Harley Street in Boston was proclaimed "Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Square". The plaque was dedicated by her son, Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Also, the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, Massachusetts – the park that was created when the city's Central Artery was sunk below ground level in the "Big Dig" – was named after her on July 26, 2004.

Well known for her philanthropic efforts and for leading the Grandparents' Parade at age 90 at the Special Olympics, Kennedy's life and work are documented in the Oscar-nominated short documentary Rose Kennedy: A Life to Remember.

In popular culture

  • The Rose Kennedy Cocktail is a popular drink in bars in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States.
  • Kennedy was played by Annette O'Toole in the TV miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts (1990).
  • Kennedy was played by Michelle Trout in the film Lives and Deaths of the Poets (2011).
  • Kennedy was played by Diana Hardcastle in the television miniseries The Kennedys (2011).
  • The American band Rasputina's song "Rose K." from their album How We Quit the Forest is based on her life.
  • French chanteuse Patricia Kaas recorded a song, "Kennedy Rose," on her 1990 album Scène de vie, which is very critical of the Kennedy family's ambitions for their sons.
  • Rose Kennedy is the First Lady of the United States in Alternate History Novel Fatherland.

References

Notes

Further reading

  • Nasaw, David. The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy (2012), scholarly biography of her husband
  • Perry, Barbara A. Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch (W.W. Norton & Company; 2013) 404 pages; Draws on newly released letters and diaries


External links

Biography portal
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Boston Women's Historic Trail


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