Biography of Richard Yates Kennedy

Richard Yates Kennedy. A man of genial presence, of manifest sympathy, of resourceful brain and high educational standards, is found in Richard Yates Kennedy, principal of the Coffeyville High School. He has bad many years of experience in the educational field, some thirty-three more or less continuous, and there are few problems of a teacher’s life that he has not, at one time or another, successfully solved. Professor Kennedy has been a resident of Kansas since 1887, has valuable property investments in Montgomery County, and social, business and civic interests at Coffeyville.

Richard Yates Kennedy was born in Whiteside County, Illinois, February 16, 1862, and is a son of Robert M. and Martha P. (Roberts) Kennedy, and a grandson of John Kennedy. The grandfather was born in Pennsylvania, of Scotch parentage, and died in that state many years ago. By trade he was a cabinetmaker and he lived in Franklin County.

Robert M. Kennedy was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, in January, 1823, and died in Whiteside County, Illinois, in December, 1912. At the age of seventeen years he went to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and while living there worked as a carpenter and farmer. In 1855 he removed to Whiteside County, Illinois, securing a homestead on which he lived during the rest of his life. In many respects he was a man to be looked up to and his fellow citizens recognized his sterling character and superior judgment by frequently electing him to offices of trust in his township. He served as a justice of the peace and for fourteen consecutive years was township assessor. He was a consistent member of the Presbyterian Church, belonged to the Masonic fraternity and to the Caledonian Club, a social organization.

At Lawrenceburg, Indiana, Robert M. Kennedy was married to Miss Martha P. Roberts, who was born there in 1826 and now resides in Whiteside County, Illinois. To this marriage the following children were born: Joseph, who enlisted in 1861 for service in the Civil war, as a member of the Forty-sixth Illinois Infantry, died of dysentery, at Natchez, Mississippi; William E., who is a contractor doing business in Whiteside County, is a veteran of the Civil war, enlisting in the Seventy-fifth Illinois Infantry and suffered incarceration in Libby prison; Alice, who is the wife of Wesley Sayers, a retired merchant of Dayton, Washington; Henry G., who died in 1863, at the age of seventeen years; Catherine, who is the wife of William E. Brown, who has a large ranch near Waitsburg, Washington; Alfred, who died at the age of two and one-half years; Luther, who died in infancy; H. M., who died in 1905 at the age of forty-two years, was a farmer in Whiteside County; Richard Yates; Clara, who is the wife of James Crom, who is a prominent citizen of Twin Falls, Idaho; and Grace, who is the wife of Edward Janvrin, a prosperous farmer and stockman of Whiteside County, Illinois.

R. Y. Kennedy in boyhood attended the excellent public schools of Whiteside County. Subsequently he entered the State Normal School at Bloomington, Illinois, and still later became a student in Dixon College, Dixon, Illinois, from which institution he was graduated in 1890, with the degree of Bachelor of Science. Since then he has frequently attended summer sessions at the Chicago University and the Kansas State University, the acquisition of learning being his ideal of enjoying a vacation.

In 1883 Mr. Kennedy began to teach school and continued to teach in Whiteside County for the next four years. In 1887 he came to Kansas and bought a farm, largely as an investment because his field of preferred labor was educational. He resumed teaching and continued in the schools of Montgomery County until 1894. In that year he accepted a teaching position in one of the city schools of Coffeyville and in 1905 became teacher of history in the Coffeyville High School and two years later was made principal of the high school. To this office Principal Kennedy brought solid learning and broad vision as an instructor and combines with teaching efficiency the practical qualities which are equally needed in one who is at the head of such an institution. He has under his supervision 20 teachers and 430 pupils.

In Whiteside County, Illinois, in April, 1886, Mr. Kennedy was united in marriage with Miss Axa B. Wink. Her parents were Sanson and Elizabeth Wink, the former of whom, once a prosperous farmer in Whiteside County is now deceased. The mother of Mrs. Kennedy, now aged eighty-six years, resides at Sterling, in Whiteside County. Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy have seven children, as follows: Ola M., who is a resident of Twin Falls, Idaho, is bookkeeper for Charles Munson, a wholesale dealer; Flossie, who is a graduate of the Coffeyville High School and the Kansas State Normal School at Emporia, is teaching in the schools of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Florence, who is a graduate of several institutions, is the wife of Charles N. Brooks, who is superintendent of construction for the W. S. Dickey Clay Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Dewitt, who is employed at Coffeyville in the Cudahy Refining Company’s plant; Leah, who is a graduate of the Coffeyville High School, is a sophomore in the State Normal School at Pittsburg, Kansas; Gretchen, who is a student in the Coffeyville High School; and Maxon, who is a pupil in the Eighth Grade in the city public school.

In politics Mr. Kennedy is affiliated with the republican party. Formerly he was an active member of the Modern Woodmen of America and the Knights of Pythias but more recently has confined his attention to organizations connected with his profession and is a member of the Kansas State Teachers’ Association, the Kansas Southeastern Teachers’ Association, and the National Association of High School Principals, the last named being a newly formed body. With his family Mr. Kennedy belongs to the Presbyterian Church and is a member of the sessions. Interested in everything that promises intellectual advancement and additional culture in his city, he consented to be a member of the directing board of the Carnegie Library. He still retains his farm of 160 acres situated one-half mile north of Bolton, and owns his comfortable residence at 106 West First Street, Coffeyville.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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