Jean Kennedy Smith, Last Living Kennedy Sibling, Dies At Age 92
Jean Kennedy Smith, the last living sibling of the Kennedy clan, died in her home in Manhattan on June 17, she was 92 years old. Smith was the first Kennedy woman of her time to take a serious political role as she was the ambassador to Ireland and helped to bring on peace in the foreign country.
Smith, who lived much of her life out of the spotlight in comparison to her siblings, was named ambassador to Ireland in 1993 after her younger brother Ted Kennedy had pushed for her to be appointed to President Bill Clinton.
Laurence Leamer quoted Smith on her thoughts about becoming ambassador and following in her family’s footsteps of public service in his book The Kennedy Women which came out in 1994. Smith told him, “It just hit me that it would be a really good idea at this point in my life. I thought, ‘Why not try?’ You know, I really wasn’t very optimistic I’d get it.”
For her efforts in Ireland, Smith had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian award. In 2010 the White House released a statement saying that Smith had “played a pivotal role” in Ireland’s peace process. Smith held the position of ambassador for five years. Ireland had been facing years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.
Smith had been welcomed in Ireland due to her family’s history. In reference to a trip she made with her brother John F. Kennedy five months before he was assassinated in November 1963, Smith told The Times, “everybody here remembers the visit of my brother in 1963.” Many Irish citizens saw the Kennedy family as their own as their family had immigrated from Ireland during the potato famine in the 1800s.
Smith moved to Ireland after her husband Stephen E. Smith had passed away due to lung cancer at age 62. The couple had been married for 34 years. He had served as a both a financial and political adviser to the Kennedy family and played a role in Smith’s brother Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign.