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A tribute to a good friend

4 May 2015 Christies Beach 0 Comment

George - frameGeo Kennedy logo

George Kennedy 21/12/1942 – 26/01/2015

There’s so much to say about a man who was larger than life!

George was a man who was loved by many. He was a man passionate about many things; life, his family, his grandchildren, his Christian faith, friends, real estate, sailing, the next best health fad, the Crows, the list could go on…

George William Kennedy was born in the windy city of Chicago, USA, on December 21st, 1942, to first time parents William, or Bill as he was known, and Vera Kennedy.

He was blonde haired, and blue-eyed, ready to take on the world.

In 1947, George’s first brother, James (Jim) Walter Kennedy, was born and in 1950,
when George was only about 7, George’s mother gave birth to his sister, Margaret Esther, who sadly died 6 weeks later. Shortly after, George’s mother also sadly passed away.

So it was 1950, and Bill Kennedy needed urgent support to look after his 2 young boys.

Bill’s sister, Rachael, better known as Aunt Ray, who had never married, left Kaniva in Victoria, Australia, without hesitation, and sailed to America to fill a huge hole in the Kennedy family.

Aunt Ray stayed close to the family until she died in 1982.

But it was in 1956, when George was 13 years old, that Bill married Virginia Logan,
Aunt Virginia, and they decided to migrate the family to Australia where Bill had another brother and sister living there.

George’s family lived in Dimboola, Victoria, for 6 months with Bill’s other sister Maude, and it was there he attended Dimboola High School, being put up 2 year levels straight away, because of the differences at that time in school education between America and Australia. So he went from primary school straight into Year 9.

Still in 1956, Bill and Virginia moved to Adelaide and settled in Parkside.

Bill bought a corner grocery store with an attached dwelling, where he could be close to home, and help bring up his family.

It was here that George, even at 13, learned the importance of customer service. That it was trust and care that people wanted and that you don’t just find those things sitting on a shelf. You find it through conversation. Through story-telling. Through generosity, and through compassion.

Two years later, in 1958, George’s 2nd brother Ross was born.

Each Sunday, as a family, they all attended the Unley Christian Chapel.

George attended the Unley High School – that is when he turned up! George proudly told of the times he would skip school, without his parents knowing, and go down to the local picture theatre to watch all the movies.

Before finishing year 10, George secured employment, with the help of Mr S.D.Gooden, as a salesman in the Clarkson store. Apparently he worked in the new TV department. This interest and passion with new and big televisions stayed with him for life.

In 1960, George joined the Australian Armed Forces for 6 years. Mostly because he wanted to serve the country, but to his own admission, partly because he could see a financial benefit down the track.

So at the age of 17, without telling his father, he enlisted into the army and because he was becoming more and more skilled as a salesman, somehow he talked 2 of his Clarkson work mates – Brian and Bob – into joining him! They have been mates ever since.

In 1961, at 18, George married Judith Isobel Braunsthal. “She had great legs!” he proudly told people. Through their 53 years of marriage, it must be said that Judy often found herself in places she would otherwise have never dreamed of being in. George’s personality, passionand drive was exhausting at times. But only because of her deep love for him, did they experience together the highs and lows of life, by each other’s side.

But as a young married couple, they initially moved to Rosebud, Victoria, and then George was posted to Toowoomba, in Queensland, where he served as a signalman.

It was here their 1st daughter, Leanne Rachael was born.

3 years later, the Army posted George to Singapore, where their 2nd daughter Carolyn Vera was born.

In 1966, after 2½ years, having spent time in Borneo and Singapore, George was discharged from the Army and the family moved back to Adelaide.

George and Judy bought a home in Morphett Vale, and George began work at Adelaide Motors as a Salesman, making his way up the ladder to be Sales Manager.

Even though he didn’t continue in this area of sales, his love of motor cars didn’t get lost on him. Instead of selling them, from time to time, he enjoyed buying them.

In 1968, their 3rd daughter Sheree Judith was born.

In his spare time, and on weekends, George began selling Real Estate for Harry Lose in Morphett Vale. An opportunity which would change the course of his professional life.

And while this changed his working life. Another moment would change his whole life.

In 1973, George’s father, Bill died of cancer.

During the70’s and 80’s, George and Judy were both involved in running the
“Word of Life” youth club down in the southern suburbs. It attracted 50 to 100 kids every Friday night at their house. It had a huge spiritual impact on many of those who attended.

In 1978, George discovered that the part-time thrill he found in selling Real Estate was something he wanted to pursue full-time. So George commenced his own Real Estate Business at 308 Main South Road, Morphett Vale under the name of ‘Geo Kennedy Pty Ltd.’

Picture of George Kennedy and family. Picture from Professionals Christies Beach real estate agency

The new business grew beyond his wildest dreams, but within 6 months George became quite ill and in desperate need of someone to help him.

And so Jim, his younger brother, joined him, both believing that “a brother is born for adversity”, as the proverb says.

In February of 1978, the same year he began his own company, their 4th daughter,
Joanna Barbara was born. Apparently he wanted to name her Georgia, but the other girls didn’t like that name. Perhaps this being one of only a handful of times when George didn’t get his own way.

In 1985 George went on to be part of the expanding ‘Professionals Real Estate Family’.
In 1990, George became South Australian Chairman of the Professional Real Estate Group, and later Chairman of Australasia, a role that he excelled in for over 10 years. In 2007 he was inducted as an inaugral member of The Professionals Australasia Hall of Fame.

His business spread over 26 years with a staff of about 40 working across 3 offices in that time. Perhaps his business motto explains his success: “Trust him – He cares.”…and we think back to those times as a young man, when he would watch and listen to his dad in that grocery store.

George always believed in being a responsible “Corporate Citizen” and generously donated his time and money to various Community events and causes. One such project was the Jubilee Playground at Port Noarlunga South where he would proudly take his grandchildren to play on the equipment that still bears his name along with the name of other sponsors on the various memorial plaques across the playground.

George was always quick to recognise raw talent in people and took great delight in helping others expand their horizons, achieve their dreams and strive for personal growth. It gave George immense satisfaction to see many of the people he had started, often as “rookies” go on to be leaders in the industry. There are many successful people in the real estate and allied industries today that can credit George for starting them on their career path.

In 2003 George formed Geo Kennedy Special Projects along with 2 of his long standing friends and associates Andrew Lawry and Kevin J Barry who affectionately became known as “the three amigoes”. Together they would source out development sites and design, construct and sell the finished homes.

When George ‘retired’ from day to day Real Estate in 2004 instead of just fishing or playing golf, he put his energies into the property development company. There was always some next thing he was planning and scheming. “You know what we should do,” he would say… even to those who hadn’t asked for advice.

George and Judy on their holiday Oct 2013George and Judy

George loved to travel. Internationally, but just as much within Australia. This led to the purchase of a 36 foot Winnebago, fondly called by George and Judy, as “The Winnie”, but its official name was “Our Time”.

George waspassionate about life, and had a fearless sense of adventure.

His determination saw him push boundaries and stretch horizons.

He had a deep love for sailing and would share this experience with whoever dared step on board.

Living at Moana gave George great pleasure and enjoyment. Particularly when he was walking his beloved dog Basil along the beach, and down to get a coffee at his favourite local, The Deep Blue cafe.

Sadly George passed away on Australia Day 2015 and while he is sadly missed his
legacy lives on through the many people whose lives he touched and for the people
he helped set the course of their journey, so his story has now become their story as well.

 

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Also see: “Celebrating 33 years in Real Estate on Beach Road”

 

 

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