Donna Jean (Barber) Kennedy
1933 - 2021
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Donna Jean (Barber) Kennedy
June 12, 1933 - January 15, 2021
Donna Jean (Barber) Kennedy of Salinas, California died in her sleep early in the morning of January 15, 2021. Donna is remembered in Salinas as a long-time leader of women's Bible studies and ministries and as a much appreciated mentor to young women. She was born June 12, 1933 in Wilmore, Kansas, a farming village where her father, Arthur Barber, owned the hardware store. She went to high school in Greensburg, Kansas, a town of a couple thousand people where her father, after selling the hardware store, owned a tractor dealership. Her grandfather on her mother's side was a circuit-riding minister-farmer on the Kansas and Oklahoma border and the founder of several churches. Her mother, Helen (Burrill), was a teacher before marrying Arthur, and throughout her life was an active member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic organization dedicated to promoting educational opportunities for women. Through this maternal line, Donna was raised with a deep Christian faith that was oriented toward education and women supporting women. In Salinas, Donna was active in organizations promoting her children's schools and social life. She was also a member of P.E.O. and Gideon's International, an organization that distributes free Bibles. She became the lecturer for Bible Study Fellowship, a national organization popular with women, and served for several years as Director of Women's Ministry at the First Presbyterian Church (now Compass Church). Donna enjoyed college but did not finish at Ottawa Baptist in Kansas. She was happy to marry a boy she knew as a child in Wilmore, Robert Kennedy. Plans for owning a farm disappeared when she became a Navy officer's wife, then later a teacher's wife. She and Robert set themselves to the project of creating a home. They first made that home in Florida, then Monterey, back to Kansas, Japan for three years, Watsonville for five, and finally Salinas in 1966. In small-town Kansas style, the two of them believed the family to be a type of cottage industry upholding the church at the center of civic fellowship in whatever place they lived. They raised three boys, two of whom, Mark and Kirk, own businesses in Salinas. Four of her nine grandchildren also live and work in Salinas. Robert died in 2008 after retirement from Hartnell College. We, her boys, remember her best as a happy woman, quick to laugh, and full of love. We laughed at her fastidious concern for proper dress and having her hair done every Friday, 1 but she always promoted family fun. She followed college basketball, always rooting first for K State and second, KU. Our family camped throughout the West, two or three times a year, from the 1960s on into the early 1980s. She slept in tents, cooked on Colman stoves, and liked to be in the mix around every campfire. One memorable trip to meet with her parents in the Idaho Rockies, the men took horses, Lewis and Clark style, to an isolated high mountain lake. Happily mom and her mom hiked up after us with picnic baskets full of lunch. She loved living in Salinas. She was a friend to all the women in the neighborhood, and she kept track of who on our street was sick or had needs. She would send us boys to go help with something at a neighbor's house. When a young family moved in, she was there to help. She kept us boys out of the living room because there everything was perfect for when women friends came to visit. She would never call herself a feminist, but her life was largely oriented toward helping women. She loved Jesus, prayed often, knew her Bible, and looked forward to every Sunday. A Baptist, then Methodist, then Presbyterian she had an evangelical belief that essentials unite us. On Sundays, she knew all the words to the hymns. Standing in a row in our normal pew in the brick church on Padre Street, we boys remember how she would look down the line at us and smile a big smile. Donna is survived by Kirk Kennedy, the death of his wife, Linda, being a great sadness, and his children, Jaemen living in Salinas and Maren Wise married and living in Bend, Oregon; Rick and Susan Kennedy living in San Diego and their children, Matthew in Boise, Idaho, Steven married and living in Castro Valley, Elizabeth McKay, married and living in Iowa City, Iowa, and Bariza living in San Diego; and Mark and Jill Kennedy, their children Grant, Ross, and Burke all in Salinas. Donations in her name will be appreciated. Send a check or donate on-line to either: Women's Ministries Compass Church 830 Padre Dr. Salinas, CA 93901 2 The Gideons International Salinas Camp, PO Box 140800 Nashville, TN 37214-0800
"A Celebration of Life" service will be held in the Future.
Funeral Arrangements by Struve and Laporte Funeral Home.
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Published in Monterey Herald Obits on Jan. 23, 2021.
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