Josephine Eleanor Gladys Kennedy died peacefully at Belvedere Heights LTC in Parry Sound on January 3, 2024, just shy of 99 years.
She is survived by her 3 sons, Joel (and Leena), Peter (and Janet) and Paul (and Laura), 5 grandchildren Jacob (and Lesley), Maija (and Jonny Goward), Jessica (and Jeff Rogers), Alison (and Denardo Riley) and Madeleine (and Chris Wicken) and 7 great grandchildren, Ella, Leila, Lexi, Jonah, Sloane, Graham, and Videl.
She was predeceased by her husband of 56 years, Watson Kennedy, and her seven older Whittington brothers (Sonny, Jim. Reg, Ron, Cyril, Victor and Dick).
She was born and raised in Galt, Ontario where she lost her sight as a toddler (she thinks from looking at an eclipse when she was told “not to look).” Thereafter, her diagnosis was “Macular Degeneration”. With her 3% vision, she nevertheless excelled at regular school in Galt, and finished her formal education with 2 years in Brantford at the Ontario School for The Blind. She relished every kind of academic challenge, solved every word scramble and mastered every crossword she came across.
Watson, as a bank employee, moved with Jo and family from Burks Falls to Barrie, Sunridge, Strathroy, Brampton, Paisley, Rodney, and then back to Brampton to finish his career. Jo loved playing her Hammond organ, her keyboard, knitting and sewing. She was honoured as a Helen Keller Award recipient and a longtime Lioness.
After lovingly nursing Watson through Parkinsons in his final years, Jo embraced the Parry Sound senior’s community, playing very oldie but goodie standards on the keyboard at The Friends, Lakeland, Community Living, Belvedere Heights, and Serenity. She loved playing these “gigs” with her musical partner Ken Dunk, and was a regular at senior’s bowling well into her 90’s.
A child of the depression, her frugality was, for later generations, an amusing quirk. An A&P bag of elastics, hamburgers frozen in cut off milk bags, jars and jars of buttons, zippers, the bottom inches of men’s and boy’s jeans. She was not a hoarder, but a saver extraordinaire. She made many of her own clothes as well as school shirts and trousers for her children.
To most people, Jo seemed fiercely independent, but to her Parry Sound family, was the “roommate across the street.” Her ability to tell stories was legendary. There were many a time when the family was gathered around the supper table and one by one participants would quietly excuse themselves “to help in the kitchen” until one sacrificial listener remained.
Everyone who knew her is sure she is “up there” playing the keyboard for all of her family, while her lifetime of pampered pets (Bugsy, Skippy, Duffy, Butch, Jake, Lucky, Feather, and Coco, and many Alpha tom cats and litters from the other gender –) gather around.
Jo handled her visual handicap with productive confidence, serving on the board of the CNIB and giving talks about living with blindness to school assemblies and service clubs. She touched many lives for the better and always saw the best in people.
The family would like to extend its gratitude to the staff of the Friends and Belvedere Heights LTC for their attentive care.
In lieu of flowers, as expressions of sympathy, donations to the charity of your choice would be appreciated. Jo regularly supported the OSPCA, the Salvation Army, and the West Parry Sound Health Centre.
The world has lost a most fascinating person!! Jo was a mentor and bowling partner coach extraordinaire. assisting with the Youth bowlers in-house competitions were the best fun (for her & the kids) with the most banter. Jo always stopped to talk when out & about in the neighborhood walking with her 'furbabies'. Her music prowess made many envious. She just sat and smiled, stating 'you can do whatever you put your mind to'.
You will be terribly missed, but never replaced... Hey, my friend, save me a seat at the bowling alley, our corner pin competitions are not yet over.. 🐸
I remember Jo playing here at Serenity where my wife and I live and Salvation Army is or church we would outside in garden or with someone going by sorry for your loss.-Frank Stallard
To Joe, Peter and Paul and Families
So sorry to hear of your mom's passing. She was truly an amazing lady, loving and with an awesome sense of humour. And no filter:) She would stop by the office every couple of weeks for a chat. And boy, could she chat:). I was the sacrificial listener but I loved it. She would regale me with tales of her life, her moves with your dad, and all the adventures (and misadventures) of you and your children and grandchildren, and of course, the dogs. I had the pleasure of watching her take care of Jake, then Lucky, Feather and Coco. She used to always say they were "just pills" but she doted on them and would always make sure they had on their booties and sweaters in inclimate weather:) She always had me laughing. When someone would walk in with a baby, she would always laugh and say she felt her milk coming in. That was your mom! She will be missed!
What a wonderful obituary of a wonderful life. Jo was truly remarkable. I’m so glad I got to know her through playing music with her and Ken, - Joe on the keyboard, Ken on the trumpet, and I on the violin. It was an honour and a pleasure to play with her. What joy she spread so many people. Sincere sympathies to you all in her passing but also what a great celebration of a wonderful life. Sincerely Pat Poole-Patricia Poole
Dear Joel and Leena,
Remembering you as you mourn the passing of your amazing mother, Jo. I've missed seeing her determined walk by my place with one of her 4-legged friends, since she moved to Belvedere. May you find peace in the memories of her life well-lived and celebrate her legacy. Much love, Janis
Josie & I were friends for a lifetime of 98 years. We were neighbours growing up as children in Galt, walking to school together, playing together (and with those pets) and she was matron of honour at my wedding. We have kept in touch ever since with long Christmas letters and phone calls. My sincere sympathy to all Jo's family. She spoke proudly of you over the years. May cherished memories bring you comfort at this sad time.
Ruth Chalmers (Kent)
One of my earliest memories of Jo was as the mother of three very rambunctious young boys who would come and visit us at the family cottage in the summertime. When they arrived at our dock the boys would explode out of their boat and run around everywhere - full of energy and excitement! Jo (and Watson) would climb on to the dock and, in the midst of the chaos, quietly greet both my parents (Dad was Watson's cousin) and my sister and me. Jo was always so calm and soft spoken with everyone and I remember being really intrigued by her ability to manage those boys with such quiet competence. She was a lovely person and with her eyesight challenges, an inspiration to all of us.-Carolyn Quinton
So sorry for your loss. I never met this woman but what a wonderful tribute and life story. My grandfather was her brother Sonny. I wish I would have met her, I have grown up a knitter and sewer as well. I’m certain she is smiling and continuing to do all those wonderful active things where she is now. May you find peace in how many people and animals she has blessed.-Christine Jones, nee Whittington
My deepest condolences to the family of Jo Kennedy. I never had the pleasure of meeting Jo but just reading her obituary is truly an inspiration. What a wonderful, productive life.-Joyce Insley
Paul, Laura, Maddie & Chris. Thinking of you and your family at this sad time.
Sincerely Cath & Bill
Joel & Family
Our Deepest Condolences in the loss of your beloved Mother. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this difficult time.
Jay & Julie Thorogood