Jean Kennedy

Obituary of Jean C. Kennedy

Jean Carolyn (Megginson) Kennedy Widely beloved nurse and Presbyterian church leader Jean C. Kennedy passed away peacefully at her home on September 25, 2021. Jean Carolyn Megginson was born on July 1, 1943 in Pleasant Valley, Campbell County, Virginia, to the late James and Clemie (Cabell) Megginson. The oldest of five siblings, Jean was raised partly in Pleasant Valley, where she attended the two-room Megginson School founded by her great-grandfather, Albert Megginson, and partly in Cleveland, Ohio, where she sometimes lived with relatives. In 1961, Jean graduated from Campbell County High School, and after studies at Hampton University, she enrolled in the Registered Nursing program at the Capitol City School of Nursing in Washington, D.C. Despite being the only African-American in her class, Jean graduated as Class President and Valedictorian in June of 1966. The next week, on June 25, 1966, Jean Megginson was united in marriage to Joseph J. Kennedy III, a union that produced one child, Joseph J. Kennedy IV, and that lasted until her husband’s death 51 years later in 2018. Having been born and raised a Baptist and then converted in early adulthood to the Baháʼí Faith, Jean converted once again to Presbyterianism in the 1970s, quickly becoming an active member and congregational leader at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. Jean was a Ruling Elder on the Session there, chairing and/or serving on countless committees and commissions throughout the decades, and ultimately serving as Clerk of Session. Since the 1980s, Jean also held leadership positions at every other level of the denomination, including Pittsburgh Presbytery, the Synod of the Trinity, and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Jean was the first African-American woman to serve as Moderator of Pittsburgh Presbytery, and was subsequently endorsed, unanimously, by Pittsburgh Presbytery in her candidacy for Moderator of the General Assembly. Somehow during all of this, Jean found time to practice private-duty nursing, to become a licensed Realtor, and to earn a B.A. in History from Chatham University and a Master of Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Beyond church and school, Jean was active with a variety of groups and interests. In the 1960s and 70s, she was active with the Panel of American Women, speaking out on behalf of women and minorities. In the 1980s and 90s, she ran a group home for troubled girls, was an advocate for literacy and parish nursing, and fought for racial and social justice. Jean enjoyed vigorous horseback riding for far longer than was either wise or safe, refusing to let a few spinal fractures or hip replacements dim her equestrian ardor. She was also devoted to the Aurora Reading Club of Pittsburgh, one of America's oldest African-American arts and cultural organizations, of which she was a proud Member and Recording Secretary. Jean is survived by her son, Joseph J. Kennedy IV; sisters Theressa Turner and Valeria Megginson; brother Lorenzo Megginson (Jackie); sister-in-law Victoria L. Kennedy; niece Megan C. Turner; nephews James C. Turner Jr. (Chelsea), David Megginson (Sharon), Lorenzo Megginson II (Stefanie), Jerome Megginson, Ivan Megginson (Alexis), cousin Rachel Wheeler Smith, and a host of other relatives and dear friends. An in-person Memorial Service will be held for Jean C. Kennedy at Noon on Saturday, October 9 at East Liberty Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA. Masks will be required, and social distancing will be observed. For those unable to attend in-person, the service will be streamed live online, with video saved to Facebook and/or YouTube. In lieu of flowers, the family requests Memorial Donations to the Megginson Homestead Restoration Project of Riverbends Development, Inc., 1007 Delafield Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15215. Arrangements by McCabe Bros., Inc. Condolences may be left at