Cover photo for Brian James Kennedy's Obituary
Brian James Kennedy Profile Photo
1943 Brian 2021

Brian James Kennedy

May 4, 1943 — August 21, 2021

Mr. Brian James Kennedy passed away from natural causes with his wife of 53 years, Irene, by his side on August 21, 2021. Brian was born in May 1943 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the youngest child and only son of James and E. Marion Kennedy. Throughout his life, Brian continually sought opportunities to serve. Graduating from high school in 1960, he attended the U.S. Coast Academy for a year before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served from 1963 to 1966 as an Electrician rising to rank of Corporal. Following his service in the Marines, Brian attended the University of Connecticut earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, Cum Laude. Before enrolling at the University of Connecticut, Brian met his future wife, Irene LaBelle, during a visit to his father’s work…a school in Southbury, Connecticut where Irene was starting her teaching career. They were married in April 1968. Brian and Irene had two children, Kevin and Colleen, welcoming Kevin in Oct 1968. With their children in tow, Brian and Irene led an adventurous life through the late sixties and seventies. With a newborn in a car seat (well it was the sixties, maybe no car seat), they took their grey station wagon to Torrance, California for Brian to work with the California highway construction during a summer break from University of Connecticut. After graduation in May 1970, they moved to Port Arthur, Texas where Brian began his career with the oil companies with Texaco. During their time in Port Arthur, their daughter Colleen was born in Dec 1970. They moved from Port Arthur to Houston in the mid-seventies as Brian took a position with Aramco. As a member of Aramco, Brian was posted to Saudi Arabia where the family lived from 1975-1977. During his time in Saudi Arabia, the family travelled throughout Europe with a memorable road trip from Amsterdam to Saudi Arabia. Though Kevin and Colleen thought the trip was exciting, as they now have children of their own, they often ask, “what were you thinking?” Returning from Saudi Arabia in 1977, Brian and his family returned to Houston where he enrolled in University of Houston Law School. Brian graduated in 1980 with his Doctorate of Juris Prudence. Upon graduation, Brian and Irene moved back to Irene’s hometown of Putnam, Connecticut. Though less exciting than a life overseas, it was a great place for Kevin and Colleen to attend high school and to connect with relatives. During their time in Putnam, Irene continued her teaching career and Brian opened a small law practice and became active in the community. He was elected to serve as the Chairman of the Special Services District for the Town and served in a variety of leadership roles in the Veteran of Foreign Wars Post serving as the Commander, the District Commander for the State of Connecticut District 4, and the Veteran of Foreign Wars National Judge Advocate. In 2002, Brian and Irene decided to officially retire. Just as when they first met, Brian and Irene went on the road…this time in a motor home with the family dog – an upgrade from the station wagon and a bit simpler than a newborn. Brian and Irene traversed the company visiting friends and family, often joining Colleen and Kevin as they pursued their careers in medicine and the Air Force respectively. They stayed on the road for several years picking up small jobs at National Parks and even working at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Though they never had a chance to see it, the grandchildren really wanted to see his Dad selling popcorn to Disney guests…really, really wanted to see it, but maybe the imagined picture is better than the reality. In 2007, Brian and Irene moved to Forney, Texas as their plans to move to New Orleans were altered when Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita struck New Orleans. During his time in Forney, Brian returned to his Coast Guard roots and joined the local Coast Guard Auxiliary to serve as the District Commander for the Division Five District Eighth Coastal Region and help educate his fellow Texans on water safety. Joining Colleen in the Dallas area, they used Forney as their home base and were able spend time with their local grandchildren, Connor and Brooke, as well as travel often to see Kevin, Cindy and their five kids: David, Victoria, Ryan, Samantha and Mark. Brian and Irene also cruised often, limiting themselves only by how much time they wanted their furry children at the doggy spa. Their cruises included the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, and a Disney Cruise with Kevin’s family…still no pictures of Brian serving popcorn. In the past few years, Brian was especially thankful for the time he was able to spend with family as much of his extended family joined him and Irene in the Outer Banks to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and last summer when he and Irene were joined by their kids and grandkids for a week at Fripp Island, South Carolina. Throughout his life, Brian was known as the person you call when you needed wise counsel. He was a keen listener who accepted people for who they were, not seeking to change them…but seeking to help them. Brian had many roles in his life: son, brother, husband, father, friend, relative, and Marine. He approached each role with a sharp intellect and an ability to empathize – not a stereo-typical trait for a six foot two Marine. On his desk and throughout his office, Brian has many photos: Brian and Irene together; his two kids; his seven grandkids; his sisters; and his parents. It is clear he felt connected to them and was proud of the goals they have achieved. Most of all it was clear he was proud of the people they had become or were becoming. Of note in the center of his desk, he had printed out the quote below (source unknown): “Do not let yourself be bothered by the inconsequential. One has only so much time in this world, so devote it to the work and the people most important to you. To those you love and things that matter.” For those that knew Brian, this quote and the USMC motto of “Semper Fi” (Always Faithful) capture the essence of Brian and how he lived his life. He will be deeply missed, but his family and friends know he loved them dearly and he felt loved.
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