Beatrice M. Kennedy Obituary
Beatrice May Kennedy, the matriarch of the Jewish
community passed away May 20, 2016. Bea was born in Roselle,
New Jersey, to Philip and Rae Rader on Jan. 23, 1925, the
youngest of seven children. The family relocated to Las
In 1946, Bea met her husband-to-be, Vern Kennedy, who had
just returned from serving in the Navy on the U.S.S. Dennis.
Vern left for Fairbanks in May 1947 and soon sent Bea an
airline ticket. She arrived in Fairbanks in June 1947.
Housing was all but non-existent, but Eva McGowan, the
hostess of Fairbanks, convinced the two sisters who owned
the Manor Tea Room to allow Bea to stay for one night.
The next morning, Bea and Vern were married in the
Federal Building. A reception followed at the Manor Tea Room
(10th and Cushman). They lived there for one year and then
moved to the Cheechako Hotel (12th and Noble). JoAnne Sweet
said Bea loved to camp and fish on the Chatanika River with
her family who also resided at the hotel. The two families
remained friends throughout the years.
Her son, Jeffrey, was born in April 1951 with Down
Syndrome. In the 1970s, Bea was one of a group of parents
with special needs children who started the Star Club to
have activities such as dancing, crafts and refreshments. As
the young adults aged, they realized they would need more
activities and functions, so Bea and the others led the way
to organize a Special Olympics chapter.
In the '50s and '60s, if anyone asked a question
regarding the Jewish community, the real live telephone
operators routed the call to Bea's number. Bea was a great
friend, terrific cook and hostess. Anyone who needed a place
to go for holiday meals would be welcome in Bea's home. If
you've walked through her door, your signature is recorded
in one of her many guest books. Bea loved her family, her
friends, especially babies; flowers, geese, birds (except
for pigeons) and all wildlife.
Bea had a special relationship with her neighbor, Bob
Weinberg. He will tell you she was like a sibling, mother
and grandmother to him. Listening to them teasing one
another was priceless. He was always looking out for her.
Many days he would cook her breakfast, make dinner and check
on her throughout the day. He'd be there to take her to the
doctors or to the hair salon, and he was her Mr. Fixit.
Jay Ramras also had a special relationship with Bea. She
knew him from birth. They had a special bond like grandson
and grandmother. He often visited her, especially on
Sundays, bringing her delicious treats from Pike's. Her
favorite was chocolate mousse. When out of town, Jay would
often call her.
Bea's newest friends and caretakers were a group of
terrific ladies. They would dance and sing with her, "1-2-3
cha-cha-cha." She loved it and showed her big smile and
wonderful laugh. Many thanks for the excellent care given by
Sheryl Jenkins, Marilyn Joseph, Youngmi Chafin, Trish
Johnston and her other caregivers.
Bea was preceded in death by her husband, Vern, and son,
Jeffrey; her parents and six siblings. She will be missed by
all her many nieces and nephews in New Jersey, Montana,
California, Nevada and other places across the country as
well as many of us throughout Alaska.
There will be a memorial service led by Rabbi Matt
Eisenberg at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 5, at Or HaTzafon, the
synagogue on Aurora Drive, followed by a luncheon from noon
to 2 p.m. at Pike's Waterfront Hotel in the Binkley Room.
Donations in Bea's memory can be made to Or HaTzafon,
P.O. Box 74863 Fairbanks, AK 99707 or to Special Olympics,
P.O. Box 82425 Fairbanks, AK 99708.
Published in Daily News-Miner from July 31 to Aug. 3,