Kennedy, Maria Jeanine
MARIA JEANINE KENNEDY
NOVEMBER 24, 1959 – SEPTEMBER 25, 2010
Dr. Rev. Maria Jeanine Kennedy was born on November 24, 1959 at Schumpert Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana, the second child of James Jerome Kennedy, Jr. and Laura Mary Kirkpatrick Kennedy. Maria was the “miracle child” – the child her parents had been trying to have for more than ten years. She was soon to demonstrate that she was miraculous in many ways.
Always a physically frail child, she was an intellectually gifted child. She excelled from an early age at Shreve Island Elementary School. When Maria reached the age of eight her father was transferred from the Travelers Insurance office in Shreveport to New Orleans, the birthplace of her mother and older sister, Jerry Elizabeth.
Not only were the two cities very different in nature but 1967 was also the year that her only sister was to graduate from E.E. Byrd High School and head to college at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana. Maria then in effect took on the role of an only child. New Orleans was far from lonely however. In Shreveport there had been no other family members for camaraderie. In contrast New Orleans abounded with nearby cousins, aunts, uncles and a grandmother. In her writing, Maria often referred to the transfer as a move from a monochromatic world to a world of Technicolor.
Maria attended Carrollton Avenue Presbyterian School were she received the balance of her elementary, middle and high school education. While Maria had graduated from high school as a National Merit Scholar, she was a bit reticent about going to an out-of-state college and therefore started her college career at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.
With a bit of experience in living away from home, Maria soon transferred to and graduated from Texas Christian University with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Then it was off to seminary, graduate school and eventually the completion of her doctoral degree in Pastoral Counseling from Northwestern University in Evanston. Returning after twenty years away from Shreveport, Maria was ordained into the ministry of the United Methodist Church on June 3, 1987.
After years of living in the Kansas/Illinois area during graduate school, Maria’s new- found sense of identity and independence led her to a social work/counseling position in San Antonio, Texas. It was here that she met some of her dearest, life-long friends.
When a ministerial position on the clergy staff of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas opened, Maria was thrilled. It was an opportunity to provide the service to others she so dearly loved. It was also an opportunity to serve on the staff of one of the most respected hospitals in the United States.
After Hurricane Katrina her exhaustive knowledge of the Houston medical community was severely tested. Her beloved father, James Jerome, now widowed, still wanted to live in the home in New Orleans. A diagnosis of vascular dementia quickly brought independent living options to a close and the two sisters made the decision that Dad would be better off in Houston with its extensive and proximate medical services for the elderly. Maria became the primary caretaker for her father. By the spring of 2010, Maria had begun to experience increased health challenges of her own.
On the evening of September 23, 2010, just before going to visit her last patient, Maria experienced a sudden and massive stoke. On September 25, 2010 Maria joined her mother and God. She was surrounded by family, friends and colleagues.
Maria was a quiet, cheerful, unassuming and modest person to the end. She was immersed in the needs of others. She was well loved by friends and family alike and will be much missed by both.
Maria was preceded in death by her mother, Laura Mary. She is survived by her father, James Jerome; her sister, Jerry Pinsel; two nieces, Kennedy Pinsel-Milic and Karolyn Pinsel-Harrell, their husbands and their children; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Jerry K. Pinsel, Sister