Friday, July 12, 2013

Religio Medici: Dr. James R. Kennedy M.D.at Home With Christ - Rest in Peace? That Will Be a Tough One.




I thank God, and with joy I mention it, I was never afraid of hell, nor ever grew pale at the description of that place. I have so fixed my contempla- tions on heaven, that I have almost forgot the idea of hell; and am afraid rather to lose the joys of the one, than endure the misery of the other: to be deprived of them is a perfect hell, and needs methinks no addition to complete our afflictions. That terrible term hath never detained me from sin, nor do I owe any good action to the name thereof. I fear God, yet am not afraid of him; his mercies make me ashamed of my sins, before his judgments afraid thereof: these are the forced and secondary method of his wisdom, which he useth but as the last remedy, and upon provocation;— a course rather to deter the wicked, than incite the virtuous to his worship. Religio Medici - Sir Thomas Browne 1635
 Dr. James R. Kennedy is an esteemed assistant professor of gross anatomy  at Loyola's Stritch School of Medicine. A retired surgeon, Kennedy is a 1960 graduate of the Stritch School of Medicine and has taught at the school since 1989. He has been on the medical staffs of St. Mary's Hospital and Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee and since 1989, has volunteered as a surgical consultant, medical student supervisor and physician recruiter for Loyola's cooperative program with St. Jude Hospital in the West Indies.  Loyola Stritch School of Medicine Award 2000


 Elizabeth “Betsy” Finneran Kennedy ’59SMC and Dr. James R. Kennedy ’57 of Kankakee, Illinois, will be presented the Rev. Louis J. Putz, CSC, Award. The Kennedys have established a well-baby clinic, a Montessori school, day care centers and youth swim teams for under-served families. They spent 10 years as medical missionaries in Saint Lucia, British West Indies, and provide service to the United Way, Kankakee Valley Theatre, Amateur Athletic Union, the American Cancer Society, Red Cross and the Diocese of Joliet. Notre Dame Distinguished Alumni Award 2005

Not even close. Neither will be this that follows.

The Gates of Heaven, if they ever really close, banged wide open yesterday when a soul left the body of a fine man in a hospice care center in Michigan City, Indiana, yesterday.

Dr. Jim Kennedy is a great man.  He grew up in Joliet, Illinois, the son of a lawyer for Greyhound Bus, who sent its fleet to the Jim Crow south to accommodate Freedom Riders and later U.S. Marshals. Jim Kennedy went to Notre Dame where he played football on the reserves under Terry Brennan and excelled as a student. More importantly, Kennedy wooed away the beautiful Betsy Finnerane of the Bronx, NYC who had been dating some poor schmo by the name of Phil Donahue, who ended up with a TV show of some kind.

 Graduating in 1957, Jim Kennedy was accepted to the Loyola University School of Medicine, where he took his Medical Doctorate and then residency at Cook County Hospital and managed to keep the arm of Betsy.  Kennedy was called into his country's service as Naval surgeon, serving with the Fleet Marine Force.

Now, it gets good,  Kennedy returned to Cook County Hospital and won the reputation as a great surgeon and general practice all purpose medicine man.  At Cook County Hospital Kennedy became friendly with the Chief Engineer and fierce defender of unborn Larry Hickey.  Bud Hickey ran all of the power plants and operations of this hospital and later butted heads with the Marxist Dr. Quentin Young over abortion.  Kennedy and Uncle Bud saw eye to eye on human life. Dr.Jim and Betsy Kennedy began their own Pro Life model in the 1960's by bringing eleven (11) beautiful, talented and much loved children into the world.

Photo
The Kankakee Kennedy's at Hoosier Hyannis Port ( Long Beach, IN - Stop 28) Even then the Chicago costs of living must have been epic; the Kennedy's moved to Kankakee, Illinois.



In 1975, I signed a contract with Father Ken Yarno, CSV to teach and coach at Bishop McNamara High School and among the freshmen students was Jim Kennedy,  a tow-head with great basketball chops and razor wit.   Dr. and Mrs, Kennedy liked what I was doing for their son.  We became friends.  Dr. and Betsy were everywhere.  Betsy could bury any NFL roster Endomorphs with her lightening pace and Mary Poppins work ethic in a week.  Doc worked two hospitals and on his days off he attended burn clinics.

I met my future bride when she was helping Betsy with the kids. Betsy shoved Mary Cleary under my nose at every opportunity, but I was serial dating at the time.  A year later, Mary's charms, grace and sarcasm and Betsy's raps on the back of my head -"What's wrong with you?" - took hold.

Mary's grandfather happened to be the first surgical patient Dr. Kennedy operated upon in St. Mary's Hospital. Oliver Duval was a epic-ly evil-eyed, mean old bastard of Frog Eater.  He had penchant for swallowing peaches whole, it seems, and the pits did no good to the Old French villain's GI tract. When young Dr. Kennedy, fresh from Cook County ER, was served up Oliver on gurney - the Herscher farmer pulled up his gown and emitted a fart of Gargantuan proportions in salutation - " How's Those Peaches, Irish?" They remained an emergency room Roland and Oliver with Oliver blowing the trumpet. " Here's another kiss for you Kennedy!"

Dr. Kennedy often walked to his rounds from his modest home in east Kankakee's St. Theresa's Parish to St. Mary's and even Riverside Hospital.  A solid stretch of the legs of three to four miles.  One evening following a shotgun duel in St. Anne, the ER at St. Mary's and attending physician were overwhelmed and panic set-in.  A nurse on duty that night told me that Dr. Kennedy appeared as if by magic and pulled everyone together and no one died. Deus ex Machina?  Nope. Dr. Kennedy.

My catalog of stories is as thick as a Calcutta phone book.  Dr. Kennedy supervised the care of my wife when she was stricken with brain cancer. Betsy and Doc never left our sides through the two years of agony. For that I am most thankful.

Dr. Jim Kennedy went home to heaven.  He trained two of my best pals, Dr. Rick Clark and Dr. Mark Manning, to be Kennedy-esque doctors- Rick is an Internal; Medicine Honcho at Resurrection in Chicago and Dr.Maj. Mark Manning, MD, USAF(ret.) maintains surgical practice in Del Rio, Texas and over the border. Dr. Kennedy admitted students to Loyola's Medical School when the ravages of Parkinson's Disease prevented a genius with scalpel from practicing his art.  Kennedy demanded that students admitted to Loyola Med have CVs that witnessed commitment to others.  " You maintained a 4.0 GPA from high school through college, but you never played a sport, performed in a band, acted in a play, volunteered to help the poor?  You will do fine at University of Chicago or Northwestern; best wishes for a great medical career."

That is the religion of a doctor - a Catholic Doctor.  Try and take it easy, Doc. I talked to Betsy this morning and she said for you skip morning rounds and sleep-in. 


2 comments:

mark manning said...

In 1979-1980 I spent two medical school rotations with Dr. Kennedy in Kankakee Il. Every day we went into surgery,made hospital rounds, attended clinic patients,and Dr. Kennedy's social rounds many times dictated by Mrs. Kennedy. It was the greatest experience of my medical education, changed my life, and guided my future. I wanted to be a General Surgeon and strive to emulate Dr. Kennedy. Over the next seven years of school and surgical residency that was my goal and focus of my life. In April 1987 I met with Dr. Kennedy at the Spring Meeting of the American College of Surgeons in Philadelphia. He informed me that he would be giving up his surgical practice. I was devastated. Three months from completing my general surgical residency and no longer having the chance to pursue an opportunity to practice surgery under the tutelage of Dr. Kennedy. Now 26 years later I'm not half the surgeon compared to Dr. Kennedy (he had the skills,confidence and right dose of humility a MASTER SURGEON) nor am I a third of the man. I do try to always follow a point he continuously made to me, treat every patient and person with Honesty and Empathy ! Thank you Dr. Kennedy Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you. Mark Manning

mark manning said...

In 1979-1980 I spent to medical school rotations with Dr. Kennedy in Kankakee Il. Every day we went into surgery, made hospital rounds,attented to clinic patients, and many times made social rounds dictated by Mrs Kennedy. It was the greatest experience of my medical education, changed my life, and guided my future. I wanted to be a general surgeon and strive to emulate Dr. Kennedy. That was my goal anf the focus of my life over the next seven years. In April of 1987 I met with Dr. Kennedy at the Sring Meeting of the American College Of Surgeons in Philadelphia. He informed me that he would be giving up surgical practice. I was devastated. Three months from completing my surgical residency and no longer having a chance to pursue an opportunity to practice under the tutelage of Dr. Kennedy in Kankakee. Today 26 years later I'm not half the surgeon compared to Dr Kenney (He had the skills confidence and the right dose of humility a MASTER SURGEON!!) nor am I a third the man. I do try to preserve what he emphasized every day in his approach to patients and individuals i.e. Honesty and Empathy. My heartfelt thanks Dr. Kennedy. Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you. Mark Manning