My Dad

Last year, I blogged about my Dad on Father’s Day weekend.  In his honor, I’m re-posting it today.

As soon as I post this, I’m heading to Lebanon to run the same race I ran last Father’s Day.  My brother can’t make it this year, so I’ve yet to decide how to handle the post-race tradition referenced at the end of the blog.

Originally posted on June 15, 2018 – “My Dad”

Welcome to #121!

So, 121 is a palindromic number.  You know what else is a palindrome?  The word “dad.”  So, on Father’s Day weekend, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about my dad, Mark Kennedy.

Many of my readers know my mom.  Because she’s awesome. And, lawyers being lawyers, they like to get to know awesome people.

Not as many readers know my dad.  He’s awesome too.  In 1992, he re-married and moved south.  Had he stayed, readers would’ve tried to get to know him as well.

My dad grew up in Burlington’s Old North End under the watchful eye of Aunt Kate.  His parents bounced around the neighborhood from apartment to apartment.  Every apartment that my dad lived in as a kid is within .25 miles of my office.

My dad went to Cathedral High School.  For those of you who don’t know, Cathedral is what Rice used to be called.  It was on the corner of Pearl & St. Paul, a site that is now the state garage where I park for work.

After graduating, my dad enrolled at St. Michael’s.  He walked to and from class.  My grandparents didn’t have much.  Money ran dry after my dad’s sophomore year. So, he joined the Army, served for a few years in Germany, then returned to Burlington to finish up at St. Mike’s.

My dad’s first job was as a teacher in Essex.  Eventually, he became the vice-principal at Shelburne Middle School, then the principal at Camel’s Hump Middle School.  When I was a 6th grader at South Burlington Middle School, the principal left.  So, the district hired a new guy: my dad.

Some might say that it’d stink to have your dad be your principal.  Au contraire.  It works out quite nicely when the principal understands all-too-well the perils of reporting alleged misconduct to a particular student’s mom.

Anyhow, long story short, in 1992, my dad married Jane Ramsey.  At the time, Jane lived in Yorktown, Virginia.  My dad moved down there, spent 10 years as the vice-principal at Yorktown’s Bruton High School, then retired. Now, he and Jane live in Flat Rock, North Carolina, a small town about 25 miles southwest of Asheville.

Thinking about my dad for this post, I was struck by a few things.

First, it’s hard to describe the essence of a person.  Not so much with my dad.  He might disagree, but to me, he lives his life by two rules: (1) he’s kind to everyone; and (2) he thinks before he speaks.  The world, and our profession, could use more people with the same approach.

Next, I was struck by how much of myself I can trace back to my dad & his influence.  This blog & my CLE presentations are a perfect example.  Besides legal ethics, what do I mention most?   Sports, running, and coaching basketball.

My dad introduced my brother & I to sports.  He played sports with us. He watched sports with us.  He taught us about sports.  He took us to Expos and Red Sox games.  He went to every single one of our games and was always supportive.

As for running, I was the last in my family to the sport.  I didn’t start running until I was 40.  My brother was a star runner at SBHS and helped lead his team to the state championship as a senior.  The original Kennedy to run? My dad.  He ran track at Cathedral (100, 200, and relay) and helped lead his team to the state championship as a senior.  My first coach when I finally started to run?  My dad.

By the way, my dad still runs.  Just a few years ago he dominated his age group at the Asheville Turkey Trot:


Finally, coaching basketball. Not much has influenced my life more than my career as a high school basketball coach.  I honestly cannot imagine my life without my core group of friends, every single one of whom I met thru coaching.

Way back when, my dad was a basketball coach. He coached 8th grade CYO teams for Cathedral, helping to develop many players who went on to win state championships at Rice.

More importantly to me, the only reason I got into coaching was because my high school coach asked me to work as an assistant after I graduated.  It’s an opportunity that, really, was only available to me because of my dad.

You see, when I was a junior in high school, my basketball team had a scrimmage.  The same coach who would later give me my start in coaching barely played me during the scrimmage.  That night, I told my dad I was going to quit.  He didn’t get mad, or tell me that I couldn’t quit.  Rather, he paused, and then told me that another option would be to go back and try to get better.  So, I did.  I played for the remainder of my high school career.

Had I quit, there is a 0% chance that my high school coach would’ve asked me to be an assistant.  A career that ended up meaning so much to me never would have started.  Thanks to kind, gentle, subtle nudging from my dad, it did.

Oh, and one more thing, but for my dad, I might not have gone to law school.

After I graduated from UVM, I had a job at a gas station on Shelburne Road. I loved it. I pumped gas, sold cigarettes & beer, made some money, and worked with some good high school friends.  After a few months, the boss made me “day manager,” paid me $325 per week, and let me work hours that would allow me to coach high school football & basketball.  Life was perfect.

One day, my dad stopped by.  Very calmly, he asked “you gonna change oil your whole life?”  At first, I was thrilled.  You see, the owners had let me change tires, but they knew better than to let me change oil.  So, I was ecstatic that my dad was so confident in me to see that, soon enough, I’d be entrusted to handle the “oil, lubes & filters.”

Then his point sank in.  So, I applied to law school.  And here I am.  And where I am is not only a great spot, but it’s a spot upon which I’d never have landed without my dad’s support.  So much that matters to me, so much that IS me, I owe to my dad.

Dad – on behalf of Patrick, we love you.  Happy Father’s Day!  We can’t wait to see you in D.C. in a few weeks for the Sox-Nationals games.  Until then, don’t waste your time looking in the mail for a gift or card.  The fact remains, you raised 2 Irish sons for whom planning ahead isn’t a strong suit.

That being said, on Father’s Day, Patrick & I are heading to Lebanon, NH. I’m going to run a race. It’s sponsored by an Irish bar, and Patrick & I fully intend to stop at the bar after the race.  When we do, we’ll order 3 pints: 1 for Patrick, 1 for me, and 1 for you.

We’ll each drink our own, then half of yours.

As I said, you raised two Irish sons!



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