Occasionally you hear someone being described as “larger than life.” Such was the case for Mike Kennedy, as eulogy after eulogy painted the picture of a man whose life was too large to fit on any one canvas.
Kennedy died on February 9 after a heroic battle with cancer. “Heroic,” because he faced it courageously, never complained and fought with determination – just as he did hundreds of times as a trial lawyer. And though the final verdict did not go his way, Kennedy was still the victor through his abiding faith.
Kennedy was a special man, and he became regarded as such by being who he was – a thoughtful and caring person who put others first. He was an attorney with a national reputation for excellence and a community servant who made a real difference in the lives of so many people.
“People were just better human beings for knowing Mike,” longtime friend Peter Calihan said, “and he always improved things after becoming involved.”
Brophy President Adria Renke agrees and describes Kennedy’s impact on the school when he co-chaired its first-ever capital campaign. “He stepped up when we needed it most and helped raise $110 million. Mike Kennedy was a tried and true ‘man for others,’ always looking to lend a hand with his giant smile, sparkling blue eyes and a roll-up-your-sleeves attitude in all things.”
People were just better human beings for knowing Mike.
Yet for everything he did to serve others, Mike was first and foremost a family man. He once said, “Professional accomplishments are very important, but there is nothing like your family.”
Dean Short, a managing partner of the law firm that Mike co-founded in 1978, confirms that he had his priorities straight. “While stressing the need to deliver the highest quality legal services, Mike encouraged all members of the Gallagher & Kennedy family to lead balanced lives.”
“Mike was one of the first people I met after moving to Phoenix, and he and I instantly hit it off with our mutual southwestern Ohio roots. No one did more to welcome us into the community,” said Steve Matteucci, a former client.
Kennedy was a husband, father, grandfather and friend, and someone who was always there for you. He leaves behind his wife, Dawn; three grown children, Jennifer, Rusty and Kevin; and six grandchildren with another on the way.
“The greatest lesson I learned from my dad was to show up in every aspect of life,” Jennifer said, “and when he showed up, he did so with exuberance, a huge smile, booming voice and total support.”
“Dad taught us to make faith and family the core of who you are and what you do, and he lived that out,” Rusty said. Younger brother Kevin added, “Though he worked hard, dad always put his faith, family and being a good friend first.”
The siblings said they learned many lessons from their father, and they were easy to grasp because he lived them out. “He would always tell us, ‘there is no right way to do the wrong thing,’” Kevin said.
To the late Mike Kennedy, we thank you for your life’s work and the example you set for us as a husband, father, grandfather, community servant and friend.