John J. Kennedy, a Pasadena City Councilmember who represented District 3 for nine years, passed away on July 21, 2022. His death shocked and saddened the community, who remembered him as a dedicated public servant, a passionate advocate, and a loyal friend. The cause of his death was reported to be a heart attack, according to Los Angeles Sentinel.
A Life of Service and Leadership
Kennedy was born and raised in Pasadena, where he attended Blair High School. He was the youngest president of the city’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and later served as the vice president of the NAACP California State Conference. He also held leadership positions in various civic and nonprofit organizations, such as the Pasadena Educational Foundation, the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, and the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.
In 2013, Kennedy was elected to the City Council, filling the seat vacated by Chris Holden, who became a state assemblymember. Kennedy served on the City Council’s Finance and Public Safety committees, and was the chair of the latter. He was also a representative for the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, and a member of the Southern California Association of Governments.
As a councilmember, Kennedy championed issues such as police oversight, affordable housing, environmental justice, economic development, and historic preservation. He was instrumental in creating the city’s first civilian police oversight commission, which was established in 2020 after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He also advocated for the recognition and celebration of the contributions of the Black community to Pasadena, and supported the creation of a Black history museum in the city.
A Legacy of Love and Friendship
Kennedy was known for his warm personality, his sense of humor, and his love for his family and friends. He was married to Lena Kennedy, a political consultant and community leader, and had two sons, John Jr. and Che. He was also a devoted member of the First AME Church of Pasadena, where he served as a trustee and a choir member.
Kennedy’s death was mourned by many people who knew him personally or professionally, including his colleagues on the City Council, the mayor, the city manager, the county supervisor, the state assemblymember, and the congresswoman. They all praised his achievements, his vision, and his spirit, and expressed their condolences to his family.
The city of Pasadena lowered its flags to half-staff in honor of Kennedy, and announced that a scholarship fund in his name would be established at the Pasadena Community Foundation. The city also said that more information about his memorial service and other tributes would be forthcoming at a later time.
Kennedy’s family thanked the public for their support and prayers, and asked for privacy during this difficult time. They also requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the scholarship fund or to the First AME Church of Pasadena.
John J. Kennedy was a beloved councilmember, a respected leader, and a cherished friend. He left behind a legacy of service, advocacy, and love that will be remembered and honored by the city of Pasadena and beyond. He was 61 years old.