Dad and his twin brother, Jim, were born in Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia) and came to the USA in the 1960s. Their birth names were Radomir (Dad) and Branimir Kosutic, but as you can imagine, people had a hard time pronouncing their names. Dad was given a nickname of Richard, so that kinda stuck with him through the years. When he got his US citizenship in the 80’s, he legally changed his name to Richard Kennedy. Uncle Jim changed his name also. Dad chose the last name Kennedy because he and Mom were so fond of the Kennedy family, hence our names, Robert and Jackie. My brother and I opted to spare ourselves from all the jokes and chose not to change our last names to Kennedy!
Dad and Mom met in New York through a mutual friend, Mica, who introduced them since they were both from Yugoslavia and neither could really speak English and both were alone in the country. Mom was working at a pharmaceutical factory and Dad was driving a taxicab. Both of them came to the country with spouses, but their spouses decided to go back to Serbia. Soon after, Mom and Dad were married and had my brother and me. Dad had already been married twice before and had a daughter, Gordana, back in Yugoslavia. We stay in touch with her and hope to meet her in person one day. I wish Dad had been able to see her as an adult before he died, but I am glad that they stayed in touch through the years.
Mom and Dad made a good team. They struggled through and overcame many obstacles together from financial struggles to the language barrier. Dad had a passion for fixing up cars, so eventually, he opened several different auto body shops and junkyards through the years. He continued to work on cars even through his battle with pancreatic cancer until he did not have any strength left. He and Mom decided to part ways in 1985 after 17 years of marriage. It was hard on all of us. Dad eventually moved to New York and then to Miami, where he remarried.
Over the years, Dad took an interest in cooking and became very popular for his meatballs, pork roasts with sauerkraut, home fries, and hamburgers. He loved to dress up, as you’ll see in all his pictures, he always had a suit on and looked like a million bucks. He always said if you look important, people will treat you like you're important. It was true, for sure. When my husband, Spencer, and I took him on a tour of New Orleans, a lot of tourists would tell him hello as they passed him and would just walk past Spencer and I without any acknowledgment whatsoever. He never even owned a pair of jeans or sneakers.
Dad was a total television fanatic. His favorite channel was the Sci-Fi channel. He also enjoyed watching American Idol over the years. He often even voted for the various contestants. He was also a “Trekkie” for as long as I can remember.
Dad was a really kind-hearted man. He always tried to do the right thing and tried to help other people when he could. Many times he would hear a sad story on the news and would get very upset and emotional. He hated to see other people hurting. He especially had a soft heart for animals. I guess that explains why he had so many pets. He had 6 dogs when he passed away, but numerous pets over the years that are no longer alive. I remember a time when I was in Texas on a business trip and I mentioned to him that I saw an abandoned puppy in the parking lot of the hotel where I was staying. I told him that I had given it some food and water and he begged and pleaded with me to take the puppy home with me, but I just couldn’t because I already had two other pets. I felt so bad, as he was so very upset for days over it. He was worried that the poor puppy would starve to death or get hit by a car.
Dad was very unselfish. All you had to say was “let’s go do this or that,” and he was always up for it, as long as it made you happy. Up until the end, he was always concerned about others. I am glad that I had a chance to spend extra time with him during his battle with his disease and will miss him dearly. I think about him every single day and have cried a river of tears by now. Dad was always there for me. When Mom died in 2001, Dad did everything he could to give me the support I needed. He and I became very close and talked every single day, just about, and often two to three times a day.
Dad left behind many loving friends and family. He is survived by his twin brother, Jim, and sister-in-law, Mary, and their four sons, Tom, Alex, John, and Henry, and their families. He also leaves behind my brother, Robert, and his wife, Staci, and three grandchildren, Lindsay, Hailey, and Ryan, my half sister, Gordana, her husband, Voja, and a grandson, Laza, and me and my husband, Spencer.
***************************WE LOVE YOU DAD!!!****************************