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lives lived

Patricia Kennedy.Handout

Patricia Mary Kennedy: Mother. Teacher. Advocate. Optimist. Born March 2, 1932, in North Bay, Ont.; died Oct. 7, 2018, in Cornwall, Ont., of uterine cancer; aged 86.

First called Patsy, then Sister St. Jane before becoming Mrs. Kennedy and finally Mom, Patricia lived an impossibly exemplary life.

Growing up in North Bay as one of 12 siblings, Patsy McManus seemed to have nothing but good times. You’d be hard-pressed to find a picture of her where she’s not smiling or laughing. She loved sports, she skied, ​skated and swam and played softball with her brothers. ​In the 1940s, Patsy enjoyed taking the train to Montreal to watch her brother-in-law Leo Lamoureux play for the Canadiens.

Patsy attended a Catholic all-girls high school and, after graduation, decided to join the convent with a friend. In September, 1951, she became Sister St. Jane with the Sisters of St. Joseph in North Bay. She served as a teacher in schools across Northern Ontario, eventually ascending to the position of Local Superior. Near the end of her 20-year service, Patsy felt that perhaps education was her true calling. Having grown up in such a large family, she also thought she’d like to get married and have children of her own.

As did many nuns at the time, she began to take correspondence courses and earned her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Ottawa. In May, 1972, she withdrew from the Sisterhood and became the teacher-librarian at Bishop MacDonell Intermediate School in Cornwall. That same year, a young teacher named Dan Kennedy moved into the classroom across the hall. He asked her out for lunch and the rest is history.

Patricia loved skiing.Handout

In 1973, Patsy and Dan were married, and soon had two boys – Kelly and Kevin. They dedicated their lives to their children. Completely. Their first son Kelly was born with hydrocephalus, water on the brain, which limited his development. Fortunately, both parents were educators and optimists. The boys played together and learned together. Patsy would set up a bin of flash cards at the end of the hallway – Kelly and Kevin would take turns crawling to the bin, reading a card, and crawling back. Because of Kelly’s physical disability, Patsy also used a concept called “patterning” to essentially teach Kelly’s legs how to move and eventually walk. Once Kelly and Kevin were both in school, Patsy returned to teaching at the primary level. Over the years, the boys unwittingly donated many of their old toys to her kindergarten classrooms.

Patsy retired from teaching in 1990, and she and Dan did some travelling. They also helped Kelly move into his own apartment and became active members in the local home-care support charity. They set a gold standard for volunteering and were by their son’s side for every group activity.

Patsy’s last illness was sudden. Near the end, Kevin and his wife Lindsay told Dan and Patsy they were pregnant. In one of their last conversations, Patsy asked Kevin if he knew if they were having a boy or a girl. “No,” he replied, “but it doesn’t matter does it?” His mother answered sweetly, “Oh no, as long as you love them, and they love you.” Fitting words from such a lovely, loving lady. Patsy’s first grandchild, Parker Patricia Audrey Kennedy, was born five months later.

Kevin Kennedy is Patricia’s son.

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