The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York


Family, friends mourn death of Mary Kennedy


Mary Kennedy


Family, friends and neighbors expressed shock and sadness over the death of Mary Richardson Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and mother of four whose body was discovered in her Bedford home Wednesday afternoon.

On Thursday, the Westchester County medical examiner’s office determined that the cause of death was asphyxiation due to hanging. She was 52.

Mr. Kennedy released a statement Thursday morning through the Pace Environmental Law Center, where he is a supervising attorney. “Mary inspired our family with her kindness, her love, her gentle soul and generous spirit,” Mr. Kennedy’s statement read. “Mary was a genius at friendship, a tremendously gifted architect and a pioneer and relentless advocate of green design who enhanced her cutting-edge, energy-efficient creations with exquisite taste and style. She applied her talent, energy and passion, which were both brilliant and abundant, to advocacy for treatment and finding a cure for food allergies and asthma,” said Mr. Kennedy. “She was an instrumental co-founder and driving force of the Food Allergy Initiative to which contributions may be made in her name.”

The Richardson family also issued a statement to the press this week. “We deeply regret the death of our beloved sister Mary, whose radiant and creative spirit will be sorely missed by those who loved her,” her family said in the statement issued through attorney Kerry Lawrence. “Our heart goes out to her children, who she loved without reservation.”

Katonah resident Peter Michaelis, a friend of Ms. Kennedy’s for nearly 40 years, said Wednesday evening that he was “deeply saddened by this tragic news,” and said his thoughts were with her children and other loved ones.

“I saw Mary about a week and a half ago at a friend’s 50th birthday party, and while I knew she was going through a difficult time, there wasn’t any sign that something like this would happen,” Mr. Michaelis said. “She really was a great friend and a wonderful mother, and I can’t help but think of her children, whom she really adored.”

Mr. Michaelis’s friendship with Ms. Kennedy dates back to when they were teenagers in the Washington, D.C., area, and they both went on to attend Brown University.

“This is really such a shock, and such a loss for all of us who knew and cared about Mary,” Mr. Michaelis said. “It’s just heartbreaking for her family and friends.”

Bedford resident Nancy McLoughlin, a Record-Review contributor who spent occasional weekends with the family of Bobby Kennedy’s cousin Christopher Lawford in Southampton when their children were younger, remembered Ms. Kennedy’s gentleness. 

“She was a lovely, soft soul,” Ms. McLoughlin said. 

The Bedford police reported that at approximately 1:36 p.m. on May 16, officers responded to the Kennedy home at 326 South Bedford Road to investigate a possible “unattended death,” meaning the person was alone when the death occurred. Police would not comment on the details of Ms. Kennedy’s death, other than to confirm that she was found in an outbuilding on the 12-acre property.

On Thursday morning, police said that the incident currently remains under investigation.

The Kennedys were married in 1994, and had four children together. Mr. Kennedy, an environmental attorney and the son of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 during his run for president, reportedly filed for divorce in May 2010.

Ms. Kennedy volunteered and supported a number of local organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester.

Three years ago, the Kennedys opened their home on South Bedford Road to reporters and guests, both to showcase the environmental friendliness of the 8,515-square-foot house as well as to host the Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year ceremony and celebration.

A month later, Ms. Kennedy was arrested for DWI after her car jumped a curb near the St. Patrick’s Church carnival in Bedford Village. She eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in Bedford Town Court, and was ordered to pay fines and attend driving classes. She was arrested weeks later on charges of driving under the influence of prescription medication after being stopped for speeding on the Taconic State Parkway. The second charge was later dismissed.

“During this difficult period the family is grateful to all those who respect and cherish Mary’s memory by protecting the privacy of her family,” Mr. Kennedy said in his statement.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.


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MAy 18, 2012