Thursday, December 19, 2013



Palm Beach, Florida (JFK+50) Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., father of President John F. Kennedy, suffered a massive stroke here in Palm Beach 52 years ago today, December 19, 1961.

The elder Kennedy was rushed to St. Mary's Hospital where the stroke was diagnosed.

The 73 year old former Ambassador to the Court of St. James was on the golf course at the time he was stricken.

David Nasaw writes in "The Patriarch,"

"Joseph P. Kennedy had suffered an 'intracranial thrombosis,' a blood clot in the artery in the brain, which had triggered a massive stroke.  The clot was inoperable."

The stroke left Joe Sr. paralyzed on the right side of his body and  limited his speech to the single long, drawn out word "Nooooooooo."

Nasaw tells us that JPK was discharged from the hospital on January 8, 1962..."with no improvement in his paralysis" or ability to speak.  Despite being unable to talk, however, Joe Sr. "appeared to understand everything that was said to him (and) everything he heard or saw."

The Patriarch passed away at the age of 81 on November 18, 1969.  He had outlived 4 of his 9 children and lived days short of 6 years longer than JFK.

David Nasaw concludes his work on Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. with these words...

"(He) died peacefully in the place he loved more than any other, at Hyannis Port."


"Ambassador In Spite of Himself." by Thomas Mallen, December 31, 2000
"New York times On the Web"

"Joseph P. Kennedy: A Portrait of the Founder," by Richard J. Whalan, Fortune Classics, 1963.

"The Patriarch:  The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy," by David Nasaw, The Penguin Press, New York, 2012.

                   Joe Sr.'s Birthday
                       Hyannis Port
                  September 7, 1963
      Photo by Cecil W. Stoughton
                 JFK Library Photo


I had an intern from Morristown, Tennessee whose neighbor was visiting St. Mary's Hospital on one of the occasions when JFK came to see his dad.

The lady was outside the door of the hospital when JFK walked out.  She asked him if she could take a snapshot of him.

JFK graciously agreed and she made the photo, but later realized she
had no film in her camera.

The next day when she went back to the hospital with her camera loaded with film and again as the President was leaving, she explained what had happened and asked to take another picture.

My intern made this copy of that photograph for me.  

              JFK at St. Mary's Hospital
                    Palm Beach, Florida 
                          December 1961