Mary (Roche) Kennedy, 93, Won Gold Medal for Bowling in Massachusetts Senior Olympics

The Irish eyes of Mary Frances (Roche) Kennedy smiled their last on Saturday, Nov. 24. She was 93.

Born in Lowell on Oct. 8, 1925, she was the daughter of the late Patrick F. (“Frank”) and Ellen G. (“Ella”) [Cassidy] Roche. She attended parochial and public schools in Lowell, where she also ruled the soda fountain at her aunt Elizabeth Roche’s variety store on Gorham Street. After graduating high school, she joined the Massachusetts Department of Public Works, in Boston, as a clerk.

In 1953, a co-worker needing transportation to take his girlfriend dancing convinced her to double date with his only friend who owned a car. Three years later, she married that man, John Joseph (“Bart”) Kennedy, embarking upon a ride that lasted over 40 years.

As a condition of marriage, in 1956 she moved to her husband’s family home in Haverhill’s Irish “Acre,” where she spent the next 25 years battling her sister-in-law—also named Mary Kennedy—for supremacy. During that time, she raised three children; cooked, cleaned, shopped, and chauffeured for the household; baked the best-tasting Irish soda bread this side of the Atlantic; and knitted countless scarfs, mittens, and sweaters. She enjoyed long solitary walks after arguments with her husband, occasional weekend retreats to Lowell when her kids became intolerable, and spending every other moment immersed with family. Her most antagonistic relationship was with her sister, who was also her closest friend.

Kennedy was a member of numerous religious and civic organizations, including Catholic Daughters, Sodality, and the Red Hat Society. She participated in several candlepin bowling leagues, and once earned a gold medal at the Massachusetts Senior Olympics as a member of the Phoenix Row bowling team. Her enthusiasm for bowling easily eclipsed her ability—a quality she passed along to her children.

For more than 30 years, she was a dedicated blood donor, giving as often as possible in appreciation for the donations from others when her husband underwent major surgery in the early 1960s. Kennedy engaged in life with curiousity, generosity, and a sassy sense of humor. She embraced advancing age with dignity, gratitude, and grace. Long after she lost most of her words, two remained: “Thank you.”

Her legacy includes her children—John Joseph, Jr. and his wife Laurie L. Jewett-Kennedy of Newbury, Maryellen and her husband Randall H. Duckett of Powell, Tenn., and Jim (whom she called James Michael only when sorely aggravated) of San Anselmo, Calif.; grandchildren Christopher M. Kennedy (Kelleigh), Caitlyn E. Kennedy, Katharine E. Duckett (Laura Lamb), Mary R. Duckett (Eric Lam), and Cassidy C. [Duckett] Britt (Sean); great-grandson Ryleigh J. Kennedy; and step-grandchildren Lily S. and Michael J. Papatola. She also cherished her relationships with her numerous cousins, nieces and nephews and their families.

In addition to her parents and husband, Kennedy was predeceased by her sister, Angela I. (Roche) Ryan and her husband Bernard; sisters-in-law, Mary E. Kennedy and Teresa N. (Kennedy) Clark and her husband Joseph; daughter-in-law, Jayne C. Kennedy; several beloved family pets; and one not-so-beloved cat.

The Kennedy family extends its heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the staff at Haverhill Crossings, to Constellation Hospice and First Choice Community Medical Services, and to the family and friends who brought joy to her final years—especially Peggy and John Lynch; Grace Reynolds; Corrine Taplin; and our cousins, the extended Clark Family (including the Freiswick, Gillis, Heiss, and Lewis branches).

To honor Kennedy’s life, and in lieu of flowers, the family encourages you to spend a little more time with the people you love. Those wishing to make a memorial contribution in her name are invited to consider Bethany Community Services,, a Haverhill-area non-profit providing safe and affordable independent housing for older adults of all backgrounds.

Visiting hours will be Saturday, Dec. 1, in the Driscoll Funeral Home, 309 South Main St., Haverhill from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.. A Catholic funeral service will be offered at 1 p.m. Kennedy will be laid to rest in her family lot in Lowell during a private ceremony. A celebration of her life will occur each day in the hearts of those fortunate to have known her well.