Mary Kennedy’s death still puzzles friends

Robert Kennedy Jr, stands with wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy in the rear of his home in Bedford, N.Y. on April 6, 2010.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The last time anyone saw Mary Kennedy alive was a year ago Wednesday. The following day a friend found the stylish but troubled designer who married into the famed political dynasty at the end of a rope in the garage at her Bedford, N.Y., Estate. It was a fall from grace as stunning — and public — as it comes.

A year after her death, a sense of sorrow pervades the memories of those who knew her. A messy legal resolution to her estate is still dragging on. Many are still mystified at the confounding end to a life of privilege and accomplishment, how it unraveled amid the splendor of a million-dollar home of her own design, while attached to one of America’s most famous names.

She was the mother of four and wife of Robert Kennedy Jr., A prominent environmentalist and legal scholar.

“She was one of the most positive people I’ve ever known — so much positive energy,” recalled Andy MacDavid, an old friend. “It’s still hard to believe it would end like that.”.

MacDavid, a teacher who lives in the northwestern corner of Connecticut, became friends with Mary Kennedy after working together on political campaigns and at a nonprofit organization.

He recalled the “calm, peaceful and loving voice” that she had.

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“I wonder what kind of support Mary had, or maybe didn’t have,” he said. “I pray that she now has sweet dreams forever.”.

Her final days, however, were like a bad dream. Trouble came to the Bedford home in a big way toward the end of her life at the age of 52 — police visits for domestic disturbances, a drunken-driving charge, divorce proceedings initiated by Robert Kennedy Jr. After 16 years of marriage. After her death, family members and friends spoke of mental illness and severe depression that corroded every corner of her life. And there was the burden of high expectations.

“It’s very hard being a Kennedy, either being a blood Kennedy or being married to one,” noted an authority on the Kennedy family, Laurence Leamer.

Because Mary Kennedy didn’t have a will when she hanged herself, her financial affairs still remain open.

The Westchester Surrogate Court appointed White Plains attorney Faith Miller as a co-administrator of her estate with Conor Kennedy, her oldest son and a student at Deerfield Academy.

“The estate has not been settled,” Miller said. “It’s still going through the courts, unfortunately. All I can say is, we don’t have full disclosure from the Richardsons as to Mary’s share of those assets,” she said, referring to Mary Kennedy’s birth family and a trust it established.

Miller, who knew Kennedy from the divorce proceedings that began before her death, said she thought highly of her.

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“I hope people remember her kindly. She was a lovely, beautiful woman who adored her children. And she had her demons. She was really an extraordinary woman,” Miller said.

Calls to her sister, Nan Richardson, were not returned. Messages left at Robert Kennedy’s office at Pace University Law School were not answered.

“Mary’s siblings continue to grieve for the untimely and unnecessary death of their beloved sister Mary and remain grateful for the tremendous outpouring of love, comfort, and support from around the world,” Kerry Lawrence, Mary Kennedy’s lawyer, wrote in an email. The email went on to say, “Although the last few years of her life were marred by punishing circumstances, it is the preceding decades of a life lived thoughtfully, intelligently, soberly, and with great generosity that are remembered and celebrated by all those who loved her.”.

At her old prep school, The Putney School in Vermont, Mary Kennedy is being memorialized by a scholarship in her name. It will go to students who help “change the world for good and beauty.” Her classmates at the school compiled memories of her kindness to friends and poured out words like “brilliant, beautiful, thoughtful and funny” in an online alumni bulletin.

Wrote one former classmate, John Wender, “Over and over these words have been used to describe Mary, and as true as they are, words can only approximate who Mary really was, and how deeply she will be missed by those lucky enough to have known her.”.

Contributing: Rob Ryser, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News.

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