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Dry Wit of Creighton University Dean Emeritus Will Be Missed

Long time Creighton University faculty member and dean emeritus of the College of Arts and Sciences, Robert E. “Bob” Kennedy, Ph.D., died Friday after a 10 month battle with melanoma. He was 73.

He was born in Santa Monica, and raised in Anaheim, Calif. He graduated from Loyola of Los Angeles in 1961 and married Mary Johnson.

Kennedy was truly a gentleman and a scholar. He came to Creighton in 1966, fresh from graduate work at the University of Notre Dame. He intended to stay at Creighton for one year and retired after 44. He served as chairman of the physics department for 13 years, served two terms as president of the University Faculty, and as interim dean of the University’s oldest and largest college, the Creighton College of Arts and Sciences.

“I will always remember his respectful manner under even the most stressful situations,” said Rose Hill, who served as assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences during Kennedy’s two years as interim dean.

An unassuming scholar with a dry wit, Kennedy mentored hundreds of students and helped Creighton’s physics program become one of the best in the nation. He made over a hundred scholarly addresses and authored publications on topics ranging from different aspects of physics to the life of Albert Einstein. His most recent publication was A Student’s Guide to Einstein’s Major Papers published earlier this year by Oxford University Press.

Kennedy believed strongly in the Jesuit mission of the University as an institutional culture combining a dedication to teaching sustained by research and service to others. He urged faculty to find a balance of all three along with a sense of community. “People who come to Creighton stay because Jesuit values align with their own,” he said. “As each of us becomes more conscious of how others share the same values, it becomes easier to act outwardly and confidently on those values."

During his many years at Creighton Kennedy received the Distinguished Faculty Service Award, the College Award for Professional Excellence and the St. Ignatius Award for Service to Others.

He is survived by wife, Mary E. Kennedy; sons and daughters-in-law: Robert E. Kennedy III, Christopher J. and Michelle Kennedy, Michael J. and Amy Kennedy; daughters and son-in-law, Erin M. and Peter Shearer, Shannon Kennedy; grandchildren: Jacob, Maddie, Ellie, Sophie, Serena, Christian, and Brynn; brother, John Kennedy (Max); nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be at Heafey Heafey Mortuary on Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m., with a short service at 7 p.m. The funeral service will be held Thursday at 10 a.m., at St Johns Church, on the Creighton campus, with lunch to follow.