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January 14, 2009 > History: Charles F. Kennedy and Kennedy Park, Union City

History: Charles F. Kennedy and Kennedy Park, Union City

By Myrla Raymundo

A Union City Council Resolution signed by Henry Franco, Mayor, Councilmen Miller, Alvelais, Garcia, and Williams on November 15, 1971 reads:

RESOLUTION: Declaring the week of November 14, l971 the mourning of the death of Charles F. Kennedy

Whereas, on November 14, 1971, the City of Union City suffered the loss of a great public servant by the death of Charles F. Kennedy; and

Whereas, Charles F. Kennedy served as Director of parks and Recreation from l964 to l971; and

Whereas, Charles F. Kennedy served his community well as a member of the Union City Lions Club, as a member of the Union city Knights of Columbus, and as a member of our Lady of the Rosary Men's Club; and

Whereas, the deeds of this man who gave himself to the betterment of the community will live on and bear fruits which are the result of his dedication to public service; and

Whereas, the community as a whole, as well as the city of Union City, has benefited from the dedicated leadership afforded by Charles F. Kennedy; and

Whereas, his public deeds were a mere reflection of his private life for those of us who have known Charles F. Kennedy personally, and as a public servant in the city of Union City, we can say that our lives are better for having worked with him, and

Whereas, the City council and the city staff wish to express their sympathy to the widow and family of Charles F. Kennedy with the feeling that they have lost a great friend and co-worker; and

Whereas, it is fitting and proper that an expression of commemoration and mourning be established.

Now, therefore be it resolved and the City council of the city of Union City does hereby designate the week of November 14, l971, as an official week of mourning over the death of Charles F. Kennedy in the city of Union City,

Be it further resolved that this meeting stand adjourned in order to allow each of us to pay our respects and rededicate ourselves to the tenets of community service by which Charles F. Kennedy lived in order that we may continue the works he commenced with renewed vigor.

I hereby certify that the foregoing resolution was introduced at a regular meeting of the City Council of the City of Union City held on November 15, 1971, by Councilman Williams who moved its adoption and passage, which motion was carried after being duly seconded and passed by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmen Miller, Alvelais, Garcia, Williams, and Mayor Franco.

It is so sad to remember the tragic day of November 14, 1971. Union City lost a close friend when Charles F. "Chuck" Kennedy perished in a Newark automobile accident. Kennedy was one of the pioneers in the city's governmental structure. He first visited the Bay Area during World War II when stationed briefly in Alameda. At the war's end he returned to his home state, Pennsylvania, but the old attractions just weren't the same. So like many others, Chuck went west returning to the Bay Area.

In l964, Kennedy became Union City's first Park and Recreation Director. His first goal was to find financing for city parks. Two years later, the city passed a million-dollar bond issue for parks and Kennedy began a program to dot Union City with both small playgrounds and large community parks. His fondest dream was realized when a Community Center and Park was dedicated on Decoto Road. Kennedy, an easy-going man, was totally engrossed in this work. Controversy was alien to the 51-year-old park director. When the decaying Decoto Youth Center on E Street was to be discontinued, local citizens objected. Kennedy acceded to public demand and helped fund the Center.

Chuck Kennedy was a member of the Knights of Columbus of Union City, No. 6288, the Union City Lions Club, California Park and Recreation Society and American Forestry Association. His daughter, Helen Kennedy, resides in and is an active community member of Union City. Following in her father's footsteps, she is involved in many community activities as President of the Union City Lions Club, President of Union City's 50th Anniversary, helping the Union City Friends and many more.

Charles F. Kennedy will not be forgotten in Union City. The community's parks and playgrounds are living reminders of his dedication to the beautification of a young suburb. His ready smile, warm handshake, soft voice and companionship will be missed.

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