Kara Kennedy, 51, the eldest child of Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy from Massachusetts, died Friday after collapsing at a Washington health club.
Born Kara Anne Kennedy to Joan Bennett Kennedy and Edward Moore Kennedy, Sr. in Bronxville, New York, she was a producer for VSA, formerly known as Very Special Arts, a non-profit founded by Jean Kennedy Smith, that sponsors programs in the arts for the disabled.
She was also on the board of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and a Director Emerita and a National Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, located in Boston, Massachusetts. Kennedy had previously produced Evening Magazine, a television news program, for a station in Boston.
Kennedy had two siblings, Edward Moore Kennedy, Jr., and Patrick Joseph Kennedy II. She married Michael Allen in 1990 and two children Grace Kennedy Allen and Max Greathouse Allen. She later divorced Allen and had not remarried.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002, and underwent surgery to remove her lung. She was in remission and reportedly in good health when she collapsed at the Washington Health Club. A cause of death of death is pending investigation by the medical examiner.
Patrick Kennedy, brother and former Democratic congressman from Rhode Island, said "her cancer treatment — surgery and grueling chemotherapy and radiation — left her physically weakened. Her heart gave out. She’s with dad,” reports Associated Press.
Cecil W. Stoughton
Back row (L-R): Kara Kennedy, Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy Jr., and Joan Bennett Kennedy.
Joan Bennett Kennedy told the AP, "she and her daughter were 'best friends' who liked to take long swims together and enjoyed walks on the beach." Kennedy said, "Kara had fully recovered from cancer and didn’t have any lingering health issues. She was very healthy. That’s why this is such a shock."
In Ted Kennedy's memoir, 'True Compass,' he said about Kara, "I had never seen a more beautiful baby, nor been more happier in my life." Sen. Kennedy was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama in 2009. Kara accepted the award for her father, who died a few months later.