gmhTODAY 09 gmhToday July Aug 2016 - Page 86

D ennis Kennedy passed away at the age of 77 after a valiant battle with brain cancer. The former Morgan Hill mayor, community leader and volunteer spent his last few months in the company of close friends and family at home. This article is a humble remembrance of a man whose vision, optimism, compassion and love of life had a tremendous impact on many. He will be greatly missed. Matthew Kennedy Dennis Kennedy In Remembrance July 19, 1938 – March 28, 2016 Written By Robin Shepherd 86 was helping people, lending his support to programs for at-risk youth, day laborers, senior citizens, and the homeless.”   Mario Banuelos “I have great pride in my dad’s achieve- ments including his military service in the Army. At his funeral service at St. Catherine Church, a tribute by the Morgan Hill Police Color Guard and Army Veterans included flag-folding and a trumpeter playing “Taps.” It was very moving and made me cry. During the service, Father Gene O’Donnell (Pastor, St. Catherine) recalled how Dad was humble and thoughtful. A man of great moral values. The eulogies and memorable life moments shared by his friends were beautiful.”    “A life lesson I learned from Dad is to treat people with respect and dignity. He had a way of ignoring the negative and seeing the positive in people. I used to think Dad saw the world through rose- colored glasses, but I came to realize that he was an optimist who knew the right way to live. When I got overwhelmed with the world’s problems he’d say, ‘Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Choose your battles, pick one way to serve.’” Matt said his father’s concerns as a community leader were wide-ranging and he garnered local support for major improvements to the downtown business district, community cultural and recreational facilities, city infrastructure, affordable housing, water management, and highway safety along the 101/85 corridor. He was also an advocate for education, healthcare, and cultural awareness. “Dad made time for other things, like singing in the church choir at St. Catherine’s or waterskiing with friends on Anderson Lake. But what he loved most GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JULY / AUGUST 2016 “Dennis left us as he lived, serving the public. Even as he battled the side effects of his cancer treatment, he continued to work tirelessly to fulfill his duties at the Santa Clara Valley Water District. If there was any consolation to his decision to step down from service, it was the massive outpouring of well wishes from the community. Dennis was deeply moved by that.”  “I remember volunteering at a charity event back in the early 1990s. After an unpleasant encounter with a rather rude and self-important guest, I met Dennis and had an altogether different and positive experience. I introduced myself, knowing he was the Mayor of Morgan Hill. From our initial conversation, it was clear to me that Dennis genuinely cared about people, about their hopes, their dreams, their lives. I witnessed this same quality in Dennis on many occasions. Like the time we shared a taxi cab on the way to an event with some friends, and Dennis chose to sit in the front with the cab driver. During the ride, Dennis asked the driver about his life story; the country he had immigrated from, his profession back home, his wife and children, and so on. The taxi driver had no idea he was talking with a mayor, because Dennis never mentioned it. It wasn’t important. Dennis wanted to get to know him, the same way he took the time to get to know me, a volunteer at a charitable event, years ago. And we remained friends over the years.” “Thinking about Dennis’s character reminds me of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.’ Dennis was a man who rose above. He had a way of connecting people, communities and even countries. His humility and genuine concern for people continues to inspire those of us who knew gmhtoday.com