What We Know:
- Kennedy, an Anderson native and decades-long TL Hanna High School junior was remembered for love. “Radio didn’t have a learning disability, he had a gift,” Generostee Baptist Church Pastor Ronnie Williams said during Kennedy’s eulogy. Williams, who had been Kennedy’s pastor for years, said Kennedy had changed the world for the better, through spreading love and joy. “Radio taught us to love.”
- The funeral was held on Saturday afternoon at the Anderson Civic Center. There was a bouquet of yellow and white flowers, a TL Hanna football helmet and a football placed on top of his casket. Kennedy’s body was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
- Kennedy is survived by his brother George Allan “Cool Rock” Kennedy, his niece Jackie Kennedy, his grandnephew Josh Allen, and his grand-niece LaToya Kennedy. Jackie and Josh have been taking care of Kennedy and his brother for the past eight years.
- Allen who also suffered from intellectual disabilities wore his brother’s blazer and told the guests how much he loved his brother.
- Jackie and Josh told stories about their great uncle, and how he jokingly called Allen “Fat Albert” when he tried to sneak snacks in his room one late night. Josh said, “Y’all knew Radio, but I lived with James.” Jackie also opened up about how difficult it was to decide if she should or shouldn’t take care of her great uncle after her mom passed away. And although it wasn’t easy to care for him, she said it was worth it. “He was special needs, but the Lord spoke to me and said he [Kennedy] needed to be special.”
- Pastor Paul Garrett said although he was really big on spreading love in his community his legacy will live through the thousands of people he touched throughout the world. Garrett also mentioned for others to carry his legacy, “Don’t let this love die in Anderson County”.
- There were many speakers including former football coach, Harold Jones whose relationship with Kennedy was displayed in the movie Radio. Jones said he will miss Kennedy a man who became his family. But said he is finally reunited with his mother who died in 1994.
- Kennedy was the heart of the TL Hanna football team at the games and in the school hallways for more than 50 years. He remained an unofficial junior until his death. According to Principal Sheila Hilton on December 15, the day he died, Kennedy graduated with honors after 53 years.
- Many people remembered Kennedy as bridging the gap between the white and black communities in the 1960s when schools were desegregated. Former TL Hanna teacher Tommy Price said, “He came along when race relations worked differently and he just enjoyed life, you know … he doesn’t really know the magnitude of how he’s changed things.”
Even after death, Kennedy is still finding a way to bring joy and love to those around him and to thousands around the world, with his stories about sneaking snacks, comments, and his wit. He will be missed.