Michael K. Kennedy
Michael K. Kennedy passed away at his home on February 9, 2021, surrounded by his family after a courageous battle with cancer. Mike grew up in Dayton, Ohio with his parents Robert and Patricia, and his sister Kay. Mike was a standout athlete at Oakwood High School where he played on both the basketball and golf teams. Mike didn't play a fall sport, but loved to watch the Oakwood High School football games, where the famed Kennedy voice was first heard inspiring his team and vexing the referees.
Mike attended Duke University and remained a "Blue Devil" throughout his life. Mike served as President of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Duke. His advocacy skills were tested early in his role as spokesman before university administrators on those occasions where fraternity hijinks may have gotten a little out of line. His charisma and charm always won the day. Mike received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1975. His legal career started at the Phoenix law firm of Snell & Wilmer where his practice focused on civil litigation.
In 1978, together with Mike Gallagher, he founded the law firm of Gallagher & Kennedy. Under their leadership, G & K grew into one of Phoenix's largest and most respected firms. The success of the firm was driven by their commitment to providing the highest quality legal service while creating a team environment that valued every lawyer and staff member. Mike loved the camaraderie at the firm, whether it was an impromptu game of basketball during the firm Christmas party (to show the young guys he still had it) or making sure to visit with every table during firm events. Mike's skill and accomplishments as a trial lawyer were widely recognized by prestigious organizations, including Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA, Southwest Super Lawyers, Lawdragon 500 (Leading Lawyers in America) and Benchmark Litigation (Local Litigation Star - Arizona). Always willing to give back to the profession, Mike served as President of the Maricopa County Bar Association and the Arizona Association of Defense Counsel and was an inaugural member of the Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame.
In addition to his illustrious legal career, Mike was truly a pillar of the community who always made time in his overbooked schedule to serve others. To highlight only a few of the roles in which he served, Mike was the Chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl XLII Host Committee and was a member of the Executive Committee for Super Bowl XLIX. He was the "Big Chief" of the Phoenix Thunderbirds and Tournament Chairman of the Phoenix Open Golf Tournament. He served as Chairman of the Thunderbird International Junior Golf Tournament, Director of the National Minority Golf Foundation and was a member of the Board of Directors and President of the Paradise Valley Country Club.
Mike served as President of the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and under his leadership, the Foundation distributed over $55 million to non-profit organizations and charitable programs across Arizona. Mike was a member of Greater Phoenix Leadership, the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Board of Arizona 2016 College Football Championship, the Board of Directors of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Trustees at the School of Theology at Claremont and also helped lead the Capital Campaign for the Phoenix Zoo. Always one to be involved with his kids' schools, he was also a member of the Board of Regents of Brophy College Preparatory and was on the Board of Trustees of Xavier College Preparatory. While there are too many activities and titles to list every one, Mike always gave back much more than he received and touched countless lives in the process.
Mike approached every aspect of his life with his signature smile and hearty laugh. Although a passionate leader who held himself and others to the highest standards, his smile always let you know his goal was to share the path to success. Leadership came naturally to Mike. Others followed because they knew Mike's accomplishments were never about himself. His satisfaction always came from the success of the team.
Mike's leadership style was born from his deep religious faith, following the Christian principle of servant leadership. For many years, Mike hosted a Tuesday morning Bible study group called Halftime. Especially over the last two years, this brotherhood provided the support Mike needed to face his health struggles and find peace in his faith.
Throughout his law practice and his many community activities, Mike made countless friends and shared many great times. Despite occasionally struggling with the yips, he always enjoyed the time spent on the golf course with friends and family. Mike's last competitive round was with his golf pro sister, Kay, where he claimed victory bragging rights. Mike loved his Arizona sports teams and rarely missed a Diamondbacks or Cardinals game. He cherished the friendships with so many people in those organizations. His many life experiences and adventures made him an animated storyteller, and his best stories were always punctuated by that signature hearty laugh.
Despite the countless hours devoted to his law practice, his church and his community service, Mike's first priority was always his family. In his own words, "professional accomplishments are very important but there is nothing like your family." Whether it was Jennifer's basketball games, Rusty's golf tournaments or Kevin's baseball games, Mike was always there as coach or vocal (REALLY VOCAL) fan. Legend has it that Mike did not miss one of Kevin's college baseball games - whether home or away. Benjamin Franklin could have been talking about Mike when he said, "if you want something done ask a busy person."
Mike is preceded in death by his parents Robert and Patricia Kennedy and his beloved first wife, Nancy Martin Kennedy. He is survived by his wife, Dawn, and children Jennifer (Adam) Burns, Rusty (Alyson) Kennedy and Kevin Kennedy, sister Kay Kennedy (Sue Rodman), cousins, nieces and nephews. The great joy of Mike's later years was the time spent with his grandchildren, Nancy Kate, Adelyn & Patrick Burns and Avery, Emma & Isla Kennedy. Again, never missing a swim meet, Little League game or music performance and getting immense joy planting a garden for each grandchild every spring.
Due to Covid and Mike's specific request to keep everyone safe, a family only service will be held on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, at 3:00pm and can be streamed live at https://CCV.church/stream
A Celebration of Life will be held when it is safe to gather at the Mike Kennedy "Diamonds Back" Field in Goodyear, Arizona.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be designated in memory of Michael Kennedy to "Individualized Medicine at Mayo Clinic in honor of Dr. Mitesh Borad," who with his team worked tirelessly alongside Mike in his battle with Cholangiocarcinoma.
By phone - Please call 1-855-852-8129
Online - https://philanthropy.mayoclinic.org/donatemc
Under "designate my gift to" please select "other" and type "Individualized Medicine in honor of Dr. Borad."
Under "tribute information" please indicate the gift is in memory of Michael Kennedy.
Mail - Mayo Clinic Department of Development, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905
Please indicate that the gift is "in memory of Michael Kennedy for Individualized Medicine in honor of Dr. Borad."