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.

There are 48 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Member

    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.

    • #1
    • December 16, 2012, at 3:57 AM PDT
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  2. Percival Thatcher

    Reverently irreverent. Irreverently reverent. Simultaneously.

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

    • #2
    • December 16, 2012, at 5:55 AM PDT
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  3. Rob Long Founder

    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.

    • #3
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:17 AM PDT
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  4. PJS Thatcher

    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.

    • #4
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:20 AM PDT
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  5. Doctor Bass Monkey Inactive

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

    • #5
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:33 AM PDT
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  6. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

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

    • #6
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:35 AM PDT
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  7. Jimmy Carter Member

    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.

    • #7
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:39 AM PDT
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  8. Peter Robinson Founder

    Beautiful, Dave–beautiful and heartbreaking.

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

    • #8
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:43 AM PDT
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  9. Bill Walsh Member

    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.

    • #9
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:46 AM PDT
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  10. Jim Chase Member

    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.


    • #10
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:46 AM PDT
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  11. Katie O Member

    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.

    • #11
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:48 AM PDT
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  12. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    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.
    • #12
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:49 AM PDT
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  13. EJHill Podcaster

    Goodbye, friend.


    • #13
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:52 AM PDT
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  14. Instugator Thatcher

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

    • #14
    • December 16, 2012, at 6:56 AM PDT
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  15. tabula rasa Member

    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.


    • #15
    • December 16, 2012, at 7:05 AM PDT
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  16. Casey Inactive

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

    • #16
    • December 16, 2012, at 7:13 AM PDT
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  17. Lash LaRoche Inactive

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

    • #17
    • December 16, 2012, at 7:13 AM PDT
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  18. Aaron Miller Member

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

    Slytherin has infiltrated Heaven at long last.

    • #18
    • December 16, 2012, at 7:38 AM PDT
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  19. Troy Senik Contributor

    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.

    • #19
    • December 16, 2012, at 7:48 AM PDT
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  20. Scott R Member

    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.

    • #20
    • December 16, 2012, at 7:50 AM PDT
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  21. Profile Photo Member

    Too soon to go. He always wrote with great spirit. Go well.

    • #21
    • December 16, 2012, at 7:50 AM PDT
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  22. Talleyrand Member

    Vale Kennedy, you stared down poverty, pain, sickness, and fear with unusual grace and extraordinary courage.Sorry you left us mate , all too soon. Thanks Dave for your post , elegantly expressed as always.

    • #22
    • December 16, 2012, at 8:04 AM PDT
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  23. George Savage Contributor

    Dave, thank you for the moving tribute.

    I miss his wit. Everything Kennedy wrote was must-read for me.

    Praying now.

    • #23
    • December 16, 2012, at 8:57 AM PDT
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  24. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    It is always hard to lose one of our own. It it hard to see someone go that was a name that meant Ricochet to me.

    • #24
    • December 16, 2012, at 9:12 AM PDT
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  25. Cornelius Julius Sebastian Inactive

    Sad and magnificent together, Mr. Carter. I came to Ricochet too late to know him, only to know of him. His impact on the august company who have paid their respects here speaks volumes. Requiescat in pace. Tempus fugit, memento mori.

    • #25
    • December 16, 2012, at 9:15 AM PDT
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  26. Palaeologus Inactive
    Scott Reusser:

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

    I always loved “editrix.”

    Kennedy on Solyndra:

    It takes special talent to go bankrupt in a subsidized industry. Team Obama seems to have gotten its business acumen from the movie Brewster’s Millions.

    Kennedy on the difference between drones and remote controlled toys:

    The difference: shooting down a surveillance drone is striking a blow for liberty. Shooting down some kid’s RC plane is just plain fun.

    Kennedy on the White House v. Ricochet twitter war:

    …Joe is there, announcing the Grand Opening of his Twitter account. What glorious entertainment this could be! It would be like Charlie Sheen and Alec Baldwin together, multiplied by Christmas.

    Kennedy on the “Third Intifada” facebook page:

    Lovely. Just lovely. We can take heart, however, that Facebook events are not ever actually attended. The commitment involved in hitting Like is pretty low.

    It was cute how they claimed that “all Muslims will boycott Facebook” if the page is blocked. Yeah right, pal. It’s like this guy is the Muslim Lorax.

    RIP, with cheerleaders, Kennedy. We’ll miss you.

    • #26
    • December 16, 2012, at 9:17 AM PDT
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  27. Ursula Hennessey Contributor

    Oh no. I’m so sad. Thanks, Dave, for writing this, and thanks for all the comments here already that say it better than I could. This really darkens my day. A very, very sharply funny guy, but through it, you could see his warmth. It’s as if his words all came with winks and a smile. He will be missed.

    • #27
    • December 16, 2012, at 9:26 AM PDT
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  28. katievs Member

    I’m thinking of a boy two years ahead of me in high school. He was so sparkling, so exceptional, so hilariously funny, so larger-than-life. Always warm, always kind. Everyone loved him: the nuns in CCD class, the stoners, the jocks, the wallflowers and geeks…

    Then he died of cancer at age 18 or so. It was terrible.

    Being a believer in God and the perfect economy of redemption, I can only think that He must have His reasons for packing a few souls with amounts of grace and charm that most mortals need decades to spin and unspool in the world, then giving them to us for abbreviated moments—as if to show us in a flash what’s really possible for humanity—what He meant to do when He made us and gave us to each other.

    I knew Kennedy only through his comments here, which were witty and cryptic almost beyond believing. Was he a fop or something else? I found it very hard to tell. Now I know.

    Thank you for a beautiful post, Dave.

    • #28
    • December 16, 2012, at 9:39 AM PDT
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  29. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Dave Carter

    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.


    Here’s my small tribute to Kennedy Smith.

    Only a few people here on Ricochet know (and Kennedy never did) why I looked up to Kennedy so much.

    • #29
    • December 16, 2012, at 9:40 AM PDT
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  30. Duane Oyen Member

    Oh, Kennedy, I’ll miss you. Our arguments over whether it was more reasonable and moral to win our FF league playing Green Bay Packers or to be a Democrat. Luxuriating in our joint semi-RINO status.

    God welcome you, my brother.

    • #30
    • December 16, 2012, at 9:40 AM PDT
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