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Kennedy Smith, 1971 – 2012

It was in 2010, when his humor reached out and made me shoot coffee out my nose. Ricochet’s Managing Editor at the time, James Poulos, had posted an “Assignment Desk” post, asking members what sort of topics they would like to see covered by which writers. Kennedy Smith unsheathed a rapier sharp wit, and went to work:   

Well clearly, there’s a glaring gap in our coverage when VDH hasn’t weighed in on Linsdey Lohan. Let’s see, Dave Carter has been strangely silent on the Salzburg Festival production of Ariadne auf Naxos. Ursula’s got the Waziri desk pretty well manned. Rob should explain the role that the undervaluation of the yuan plays in our economic troubles. Peter would be a natural to infiltrate the New Black Panthers (he and Tucker could work shifts). Thinking outside the box.  I volunteer to follow the trail of Michelle on the Costa del Sol. We get expenses, right?

What does one do except marvel at the versatility, the mischief, and the sheer energy of such a mind? Well, one can thank God above that we get occasional glimpses of the fire of a truly bright spirit. Which we do today, though saddened by the news that this particular fire in the night has been called home. We received the news a short time ago that Ricochet Member Kennedy Smith passed away earlier today.  

Last summer, his health took a serious turn as he spent an extended time in ICU. Prayers on Ricochet, Facebook, and throughout his universe of friends and family were said on his behalf.  Recovering at home in August, he wrote on Facebook: 

Amazing, the number of friends I’ve suddenly discovered.  Had no idea the number of people I’ve inadvertently touched (sorry about that; good luck suing), both in real life and on the internet. I have the rare opportunity to know that my funeral will be well-attended. Trouble is, there’s been a marked decline [in] the ratings since I moved from somewhat likely to die to somewhat likely to live. I need a new hook. Something catchy.

Well, it wasn’t a hook, but rather his own faith and family that kindled Kennedy’s spirit in recent months. On an October trip to Mass, he writes: 

On our whirlwind tour of local churches, ere I settle back at my place and choose a parish, we hied ourselves up Lookout Mountain to Our Lady of the Mount. Catholics who still have a certain Episcopal staidness. Not demonstrative, but reliably well-dressed.  

The decor: fresh, wooden, mountainy. Lots of nice friezes, including a striking St Francis near the altar. I prayed for Maggie.

Music, always important to me. Piano & singer. Much better than a damned guitar, unsuitable for non-hippie churches. Started off with a ragtime playfulness, then calypso, then British Imperial for the majestic bits. Got a standing ovation at the end. Looked for a tip jar during Eucharist, but he didn’t have one.

Pastor, a genial old buffer, pleasant to meet & greet, with a dog.

Homily, a strong stance on the sanctity of marriage, which suited the readings. Not backing down, though he did say “doesn’t matter what the government does.”

Eucharist: being lazy, I like them to stick it on my tongue directly. Though I think they honestly prefer to stick it in your hand (creeping Episcopalianism) I’m leaning on a cane, dammit! Which I then hooked around my arm to bow to the wine lady, who gave a nice blessing

And, from his Facebook page, we see the happy announcement in November that the Smith family had welcomed a new member: 

For unto us a son is born. Unto us a son is given. And the Government shall be upon his shoulder, And his name shall be called Campbell! Montgomery! Smith! The Mighty God, the Prince of Peace.

Yes, Young Master Campbell has arrived, and he is pissed. Heart surgery does that to a kid. A true Smith, he’s a fighter. Defiant little guy. Gonna be a handful, I suspect.

Bizarrely, no damned pictures have been included on Campbell’s or my Mother’s announcement. You’d think, you’d just think, somebody would have a picture attached to a Nativity Announcement.

As I wrote to Peter and Rob a little while ago, Earth is less of a happy place tonight without Kennedy Smith here. But Heaven, on the other hand, must be positively sparkling with celestial zingers right now. God be with this man’s strong and loving family. And may God grant comfort to those who are now in shock that such an indomitable and larger-than-life gentleman is no longer with us, saddened by the sudden loss we feel, but grateful to have seen that fire illuminate our night, and hopeful that we will enjoy our friend’s company again in a place that knows neither darkness  nor sorrow. Rest in peace, my friend. We will miss you.

  1. Trace

    Thanks Dave. Kennedy was a gem and I miss him on the Interwebs, but for his peace after suffering I am grateful. I grieve for his family and hope that there is a nephew or two already eyeing his cape.

  2. Percival

    Reverently irreverent.  Irreverently reverent.  Simultaneously.

    God bless and keep you, brother, and His grace and peace on your family.

  3. Rob Long
    C

    Lovely, Dave.  

    You and I crossed in the webs — I posted something small and short on the Member Feed, but yours is so much more complete and fitting.  And more: I got to laugh again at some of Kennedy’s brilliant material.  Here’s a snippet of what I have on the Member Feed, but let’s keep our comments, if we can, to this post — I want everyone to be able to see what an impact Kennedy had:

    He was one of our original members.  And one of our most original members.

    What a loss.  What a funny, irreverent, honest, and fearless guy he was.  I admired him so much, never more so than when he was making mordant jokes about his illness. 

    Words fail.  He will be missed.  He is already.

  4. PJS

    His brother posted on KS’s Facebook page last week that he was back in the hospital.  It didn’t sound hopeful, so, while I am not surprised by his passing, I am very sad.  He did make me smile.  I am happy that he is no longer suffering, and pray for comfort for his family and friends.

  5. Whiskey Sam

    RIP, KS.  His comments were funny, sharp, and erudite, but you never felt he was talking down to you.  He will be sorely missed.

  6. Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    This is the news I’ve been dreading since July.

  7. Jimmy Carter

    I only  “knew” Kennedy Smith Here ’round Ricochet, so My impression of Him is,”Wow! Now that’s a Character!”

    Always made Me laugh hysterically.

    My perception of His persona I would describe as erudite majesty[?]. 

    I often wondered what happened to Him. I had no idea.

  8. Peter Robinson
    C

    Beautiful, Dave–beautiful and heartbreaking.

    With a prayer for the repose of a magnificent soul, and another for the consolation of his grieving family.

  9. Bill Walsh

    Aw, hell, if I may be permitted a bit of un-Smithian inarticulacy. A wit and a marvelous virtual acquaintance. Dona ei requiem, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. I’m glad I knew him and wish his family and friends every consolation, including that their grief is terrible in proportion to the great good fortune they had to know and love him. Bis demnächst, mein Freund.

  10. Jim Chase

    I’m truly grieved by this news.  I didn’t interact with him much, but always got a kick out of his wit and the way he would weave a Harry Potter reference into his observations.

    His was a wonderfully unique voice.  Prayers for his family.

    Sigh.

  11. Katie O

    Count me among those he “inadvertently touched”. I’m glad Ricochet was here to make it possible. He was one of a kind. Rest in peace Kennedy Smith, you brightened the days of so many you never met.

  12. Lucy Pevensie
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: This is the news I’ve been dreading since July. · 7 minutes ago

    Me too.

    Into your hands, O merciful Saviour, we commend your servant Kennedy. Acknowledge, we pray, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Enfold him in the arms of your mercy, in the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and in the glorious company of the saints in light.
  13. EJHill

    Goodbye, friend.

    KS.jpg

  14. Instugator

    I am thankful to have glimpsed his wit. We will pray for his family.

  15. tabula rasa

    Few could match his wit–I certainly couldn’t.  

    I’m proud to say I share a last name with Kennedy. That doesn’t say much for me, but I’m still proud to have that connection with one of God’s wonderful sons.

    RIP

  16. Casey

    A tough weekend here at Ricochet. Put in a good word for us up there, KS.

  17. Mike LaRoche

    After this life, life eternal beckons us.  Rest in peace, Kennedy.

  18. Aaron Miller

    Thanks for the refresher, Dave. An amazing wit. And a doggedly cheerful soul.

    Slytherin has infiltrated Heaven at long last.

  19. Troy Senik, Ed.
    C

    For those who weren’t fortunate enough to experience him while he was with us, here’s what you would have seen if you clicked through to the bio on Kennedy’s profile:

    Kennedy Smith is a shiftless layabout of no discernable talent, visible means of support, or practical value to society other than being good at cocktail parties.

    The first 19 words: utter falsehoods. The last 7: Well, for those of us who think of Ricochet as a virtual cocktail party, he was selling himself short. He wasn’t good. He was damn near the best.

  20. Scott R

    Oh, man. What a sweet soul. So funny and so charming. And so brave, as those Facebook comments show. Very very sad news.

     “Sweet Jesus on rollerskates!” was the quirky line he’d use when he was exasperated — a line only he could get away with. Classic Kennedy Smith.

    See you, Kennedy. Miss you already.

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