It is with deep sorrow we announce the passing of Michael Kennedy on November 16, 2020 in his 80th year.
Michael Hugh Kennedy was born January 8, 1941 in the historic naval city of Portsmouth, England. His mother, Ivy Doris Hackett, worked as a payroll clerk at Portsmouth Dockyards, where she met and married Malcolm Akers Kennedy, Chief Petty Officer in Her Majesty’s Navy. However, as with many wartime marriages, theirs ended in divorce, March 1947.
Due to the war, Michael didn’t get to spend much time with his father. Malcolm died in naval service in 1953.
Michael was a darling, blue-eyed, blonde child, doted upon by his maternal grandparents and a large extended family on his mother’s side. Michael was a good student and enjoyed playing soccer. His favourite subjects soon became English and Art. He had a natural talent for storytelling, poetry, and the fine arts of painting, drawing, and sculpting.
Ivy remarried in May 1947 to John Thomas Varndell (Jack), and Michael’s brothers John Patrick (Oct. 1948) and Christopher (Dec. 1951) entered Michael’s life.
June 1954 saw the family embarking on a bold new life by emigrating to Australia. Michael’s grandparents had vainly tried to have him remain in England with them, but when the 13 year old was asked what he would like to do, the swift reply was, “Of course I’m coming with you, mum!” What an adventure!
After a month at sea, they joined many other migrant families at Berkeley Hostel, just outside Wollongong, NSW.
Jack was employed at the Port Kembla steelworks, and at the age of 15, Michael joined him as an electrical apprentice.
Sun, sand, and sea provided a perfect backdrop for Michael’s adventures with his motorcycle pals. Michael also took up the art of ballroom dance and soon realized that having his toes occasionally stepped on by pretty, young women was preferable to getting his shins kicked during a soccer match.
Michael obtained his International Standard medals in ballroom dance and was a very popular partner. His lifelong love of dance and music covered all genres, with Latin and Jazz being among his favourites.
On Michael’s journey back to England in 1964, he met Alma Hanson, a beautiful Canadian woman of Ukrainian/Norwegian heritage. Alma grew up in Peace River country in Northern Alberta. They married in August 1965 in England, then moved to Edmonton.
Their son Mark was born in March 1966. The family then moved to London, England, and then later for a short while to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Returning to Edmonton, AB, their daughter Lara was born, completing their family in July 1969.
Michael worked as an electrician on many residential and commercial projects. In 1979, he started working at the University of Alberta Hospital, a much more comfortable situation considering Edmonton’s climate.
The family enjoyed travelling, camping, and spending time with Alma’s parents in Watino, AB.
Michael and Alma divorced in December 1993. It was through Michael’s involvement in Union activities as a Shop Steward and Health and Safety Representative that he met Della Letnes, a unit clerk.
It wasn’t long before Michael’s sharp, wry wit, and engaging smile resulted in the start of a long and loving partnership. Michael and Della spent time enjoying BC’s Gulf Islands, the Okanagan, and Jasper regions as they travelled back to Edmonton after visiting Della’s family in her hometown of Victoria.
Shortly after Michael retired in 2006, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
Michael took it all in stride, saying, “It could always be worse. Keep calm and carry on.”
Michael continued to write poetry and joined The Stroll of Poets, participating in public readings and having his work published in their anthologies.
He produced a large body of written work as well as many watercolor paintings and figurative sculptures. Music and dance played a big part in his life, whether waltzing in a ballroom or doing a slow rhumba in the kitchen with Della and their Cocker Spaniel, Bailey. Michael truly never missed a beat.
Michael’s love for all creatures was expressed through many family pets, including Tigger the cat, cockatiels, and a well-stocked aquarium. When Bailey passed in 2014, Michael & Della adopted Roca, an Aussie-Shepard mix. The bond between them quickly formed, and he became a great emotional support during Michael’s PD journey.
Michael was a generous, loving, passionate, creative man. He is travelling on a different path now and has been reunited with those who have passed on before him.
Michael is survived by his partner Della, son Mark (Michele), daughter Lara (Marie), grandchildren Kieran and Amanda, brother John, sister-in-law Sharon, sister-in-law Henny, and extended family in the U.K., Australia, and Canada.
His cremation has taken place, and we hope to gather to remember and celebrate Michael when circumstances allow.
Donations may be made to the Parkinson’s Association of Alberta (11209 – 86 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5B 3H7).
The family wishes to acknowledge, and are grateful for, the support from Dr. Adam Parrish, Dr. Richard Camicioli, everyone at the Movement Disorder Clinic, the Kaye Clinic, and everyone at the Buchanan Centre who truly became family. We also wish to acknowledge the wonderful staff at the Emergency and 5C3 ward, UAH.
One’s Sunset is Another’s Sunrise
If you should call to me and I’m not there to answer you,
There’s a story I should mention before the day is through.
I was watching a sunset the other day, whilst talking on the phone,
Cherishing the beauty that I thought was mine and mine alone.
When my friend said, “By the way, I wish that you could see,
the most lovely sunrise in the world that has come to visit me.”
For she lived in another place thousands of miles away,
And though it’s very simple, I hadn’t thought of it until today.
That we were both watching the very selfsame sun,
which warms us all on Earth, until each day is done.
And though it was my sunset, I was cheered more than I could say,
Knowing that for others it was the start of a beautiful day.
So to all my friends, loved ones and children too,
Pray don’t fear the dark, there will be more skies of blue.
And if I cannot see it, while standing by your side,
Think of all the beautiful things we’ve shared, along life’s wondrous ride.
– Michael Kennedy
Serenity Funeral Service, South Edmonton (780)450-0101