The Kennedys Are From Chicago, Too

Chris Kennedy is not the only member of the prominent family to show an interest in Chicago.

Photo: tribune file photo

In Chicago, on September 26, 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon squared off in the first-ever televised presidential debate.

Joseph Kennedy (1888-1969)
The patriarchal Boston-reared businessman created a trust and bought the Merchandise Mart for $12.5 million in 1945. Then the world’s largest building by square footage, it stayed in the family until 1998.

Sargent Shriver (1915-2011)
At Joseph Kennedy’s invitation, the U.S. Ambassador to France and democratic vice presidential candidate moved to Chicago in 1945 to become assistant general manager of the Merchandise Mart. He wed Eunice Kennedy in 1953, served as a political coordinator during John F. Kennedy’s presidential running, and later left Chicago to become Director of Peace Corps, newly founded by JFK, in 1961.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver (1921-2009)
The third daughter of Joseph and Rose Kennedy founded the Special Olympics, known as Camp Shriver in its early days, which was first held at Soldier Field in August 1968.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
The strapping 35th president made broadcast history in Chicago on September 26, 1960, when he and Richard Nixon participated in the first-ever televised presidential debate at WBBM-TV Ch. 2 studios (above).

Sheila Berner Kennedy (born 1962)
This daughter of prominent Chicago lawyer Robert Berner married Chris Kennedy in 1987. Together, they have four children and live in the suburbs.

William Kennedy Smith (born 1960)
Two years after he was acquitted in a nationally televised 1991 rape trial held in West Palm Beach, Florida, this Kennedy cousin (he is the son of Stephen and Jean Kennedy Smith) moved to Chicago to intern at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. In 1998, he started the Center for International Rehabilitation in Chicago, a not-for-profit that develops prosthetics and rehabilitation techniques for patients in developing countries. He is also an executive of Medred, a Washington, D.C.–based medical consulting firm.
 

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