THE INFLUENCE OF A POLITICAL GRANDFATHER
Boston, Massachusetts (JFK+50) On February 11, 1863, 154 years ago today, John Francis Fitzgerald*, the maternal grandfather of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was born here in Boston. "Honey Fitz", as he came to be known, was a natural politician who loved people and loved to sing "Sweet Adeline".
There should be little doubt of the impact Honey Fitz had on the early political success of his grandson. According to Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jack Kennedy recalled that his grandfather was "the only person he knew in Boston" when he began his run for Congress.
JFK set up his headquarters in the Bellevue Hotel just down the hall from where Honey Fitz and his wife had lived for ten years and the old man accompanied his grandson as he campaigned in Boston's North and West Ends.
As Billy Sutton said, "Fitzgerald was a cheerleader with the elderly."
On June 18, 1946, Jack voted with his grandparents & when he was declared the winner, Honey Fitz jumped up on a table at Kennedy Headquarters, danced a jig & sang "Sweet Adeline."
In the future president's last conversation with Honey Fitz, DKG tells us that he said to Jack...
"You are my namesake. You are the one to carry on our family name. And mark my word, you will walk on a far larger canvas than I."
John F. Fitzgerald died at the age of 87 on October 2, 1950.
When John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the 35th President of the United States, he chose to be sworn in on the Fitzgerald Family Bible and he would rename the presidential yacht, the "Honey Fitz."
*John Francis Fitzgerald (1863-1950) was the son of Thomas Fitzgerald of County Limerick and Rose Anna Cox of County Cavan, Ireland. JFF was educated at the Boston Latin School and Boston College. He served twice as mayor of Boston and was elected to the United States Congress.
JFF was chairman of the Royal Rooters, a club supporting Boston's baseball teams & he threw out the 1st pitch for the opening of Fenway Park on April 20, 1912.On his death the Boston Post described JFF as "one of Boston's most beloved figures."
"The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga by Doris Kearns Goodwin," Simon and Schuster, New York, 1987.
"The Kennedys: A Chronological History" by Harvey Rachlin, World Almanac, 1986.
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