Baseball great Jackie Robinson had already broken the color barrier when a single baseball pitch cost Eddie his life’s dream.
Eddie Mack Kennedy, who died Jan. 3 at age 72, was trying out for the old Brooklyn Dodgers before the team moved to Los Angeles. A hard pitch shattered Eddie’s eardrum and instantly ruined his hopes for a professional baseball career.
Eddie had gotten to the final pick, and the choice was between him and one other contender when the ball struck his head. He got that close to making his dream a reality.
“They sent him home, and it broke his heart,” said his former wife, Laura Kennedy.
Church was important
Laura and Eddie met through family friends in 1961 and married in 1966. He’d graduated from West Charlotte High School, Johnson C. Smith University, worked for a year as a deputy sheriff then joined the Army, where he retired after 27 years as a sergeant 1st class.
“We had a curfew,” Laura said of their early dates. “We didn’t go to clubs, but went somewhere the church was concerned or to a drive-in movie.”
Eddie was quiet, she said, but, “He was the type person that, if he could help you, he would.”
Daughter Tabora said, “He would help anybody, and he was a good soldier. He was a cancer survivor and always encouraged other cancer patients to trust in God and never give up. The doctor told him several times that he was going to die, but he never accepted it. He died of an infection.”
Military life meant much travel for the family. Eddie served in Korea and later in many stateside bases.
“There was Fort Jackson, Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, Mobile, Alabama and Camp Pendleton, California,” Reginald said.
In his final 11 years in the military, Eddie oversaw the Army Reserves supply unit on Central Avenue, his son said.
After his retirement, he broke a color barrier of his own when he worked as the first black claims adjustor for Travelers Insurance, his daughter said.
God was first with Eddie
“He was a great father and always talked about God. He put God first and taught me how to have a good relationship with my wife,” Reginald said.
Eddie was a longtime member of Statesville Road Presbyterian Church and had been a member of Victory Christian Center for about five years, Laura said.
In his online memory book, others recalled Eddie’s relationship to his church and his God.
“A true solder of God’s word, a wonderful father and grandfather,” wrote Darlene Bost-Kennedy.
“Your wisdom and spirit will always be with me,” wrote Darius Bost. “You have taught me much about how to live life and take it for all its blessings.”
Perhaps Eddie didn’t get the life of his youthful dreams, but he made it count where it mattered most. He lived his life of faith as a model for others to follow.
Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them.
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