Kennedy, John Richard

Kennedy, John Richard

May 16th, 2021

Peacefully died on Sunday, May 16, 2021, at age 70. He will be forever remembered by his mother, Sylvia; his wife, Susan (née Nolan); his three sons, Christopher (Brooke), Peter, and Michael (Sandy) and their mother, Frances Kennedy; and his three step-children, Jason (Ashlee), Hayley (Justin), and Ashley. John and Susan shared ten grandchildren, Jillian, Stella, Emily, Alexandria, and Sylvia; and John, Nora, Adam, Dylan and Clara. He is also survived by his brother, Robert, (Judith, Aaron, Robyn), his sister, Patricia (Phillip Wattie, Lauren, Graeme), and his brother, Paul.

John was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Donald (2002) and Sylvia Kennedy on July 18, 1950. Donald’s career brought the family to London, Ontario, where they raised their four children. John attended the University of Western Ontario and received an HBA from the Ivey Business School and his J.D from the University of Toronto. He was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1977.

John was the epitome of life, enthusiasm, selflessness, and positivity. His life focused on his loving family and imparting a love of the outdoors, whether on a ski hill in winter or dockside in the Muskokas during summer. He helped to instill a deep appreciation for adventure in his children and grandchildren, and for that they will be forever grateful.

His enthusiasm and his deep appreciation for the practice of law began with the firm Aston, Berg, Kennedy, and Morrisey, which later merged with the local powerhouse, Siskinds. His dedication and his unwavering commitment to his clients kept John engaged and passionate over the course of his career. 

His selflessness drove him to be involved with many different causes. Those closest to his heart included Boler Mountain, London Track 3, Goodwill Industries - Ontario Great Lakes, Orchestra London and Orchestra Canada. John believed that his business and legal expertise would be of assistance, but each organization would say that his passion and commitment to their cause was the biggest asset.

John was unfailingly positive and optimistic. His glass half full outlook was inspiring to all. When John walked you through a challenge there was often little doubt that things would work out. He has left a mark on everyone, and a legacy that will live on forever.

A private family funeral will be held in the Westview Funeral Chapel. A celebration of his life will be announced for the summer of 2022. The family invites friends and family to view the service remotely via livestream. Registration is required to view the livestream.

To register for the livestream of John’s family funeral, please click here: Registration page for John's family funeral on Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, it is John’s wish that any donations be directed to the London Track 3 in London, Ontario,

If you would like to send a private message to the family please send it to

To view an article written about John in the London Free Press, please click here: REMEMBERED: John Kennedy's can-do spirit went beyond his law practice

Charitable donations may be made to:

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Book of Condolences

Peter and Sharon BrennanI don’t know that there are words to describe John Kennedy, but I am going to try. When John saw you he would call out your name as though it was spelled with a combination of letters and exclamation points, followed by “How the h*ll are you!?” He somehow found three days of living out of every one day of life. We were so blessed to have known him. It seems impossible that this larger than life warrior of a man is gone. He connected so many people, and those introductions forged deep, loving forever-friendships. He tried to help everyone he met. People who needed something he could give, were his favourite project. This commitment to service lit him up. John did everything big. Big plans, big parties and a big laugh. He had large opinions that he shared with conviction and these were matched in size by his massive heart. It is no wonder that the grief we feel is equally enormous. If you got in a boat, went on a holiday or hiked on a trail with John, it was going to be an adventure. That’s how he lived his life. John liked to assign pet names. Sharonski, RichieBain, Little Katie Rose and of course Suzie-Q. A goodbye from John was always the same. A massive hug and the words, “I love ya!”. He didn’t just say it. We knew he loved us. Whenever I think of John, he will be standing, smiling by the lake in Muskoka, surrounded by the family he loved so much, and the friends he spoiled at every opportunity. These are only some of the gifts he gave us. You could always count on him; a true friend. Our hearts are broken with the loss of this warm man who we loved so very much.
Jose AriasMy condolences. May the family find peace in this hard time.
Steve SmithMy condolences to the family for the loss of a great man. John was an immense help to me in my transition from the US to Canadian permanent residency and in those dealings, I came to recognize that I was blessed to be working with not only an extremely competent legal/business advisor, but also an overall remarkable human being. While it was "just business", he brought so much more to the table and we were so lucky to have had him in our lives. He is missed, will be thought of often, and always be remembered fondly by my wife and I.
JOHN KNIFTONJohn's fantastic and optimistic approach to life, struck me on the day that I met him. I have told this story many times. I was a young, nearly graduated from Western University student living on Hellmuth Avenue in London with a dream to become a real estate developer. One fall day on a Saturday, in 1982 playing street hockey with my UWO roommates, our tennis ball happened to overshoot the net and landed in front of John and Fran's house. John (whom I did not know at the time) was also playing street hockey in front of his house with Christopher and Peter. John approached me with our tennis ball in one hand and an outreached hand shake with the other. "Hi I'm your neighbor John Kennedy! How are ya!" (breaks my right hand with his grip...) Why don't you guys come over to my front porch after hockey John said to us. . 20 minutes later sitting on his front porch having a beer with my new friend, I ask John what he does for a living and he said he was a Lawyer and in fact mentioned that he had just started his own practice . I said that's great, because when I graduate from Western I want to be a real estate developer and i am probably going to need a Lawyer. So John shook my hand again and said "Great! You will be my first client!" That day, started a lifelong friendship of friends first and really close business colleagues second. John had my back through thick and thin and always delivered his best. "So you've got yourself in a bit of a dust up? No problem, we'll fix that guy!" type of attitude. He would say things like , I am thinking of going on a Motorcycle trip to Manitoulin Island? I will meet you at your house tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m! That was not an offer but a directive that you were going. "Lets go windsurfing at Lake Fanshawe? I found this waterski place called Lakeside, right outside of Stratford! Lets go!" John was endless with ideas and activities, Always positive and enthusiastic! We will all miss John dearly! They broke the mold after John graced us with his presence. I will really miss him. He was one of my best friends for 43 years. John Knifton
Cathy BruniI had the pleasure of working with John at Siskinds for the past nearly 20 years. His dedication to his clients was beyond reproach. His commitment to the community and organizations including Boler Mountain and Orchestra London to name just a couple, was equally impressive. His passion shone through all that he did. He will be missed.
Katherine CarletonJohn played a transformative role in my life, and in the life of Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada - stepping forward as a board member and leader at a tough time, and standing by ready to help as we re-found our feet and got traction. He was funny, smart, honest, entertaining, and kind, boundlessly resourceful, generous, and genuinely committed to community service. Susan and family: I'm so sorry for your loss. The world is a sadder place today, and just know that I'll be thinking about John and celebrating his spirit in the days to come.
Colin LeggeMy sincere condolences to all the family. John was a big part of our family gatherings for many years, and he was always so present, so interested in what was going on in your life, such a warm and caring man. Always ready to listen, always ready to take part, always kind to us youngsters and cousins. He made a lasting impression on us all. God Bless.
Rick JankuraA wonderful tribute to John, Peter and Sharon Brennan. I am so blessed to have had my life's journey intersect with John's life journey. He was an amazing, selfless person who has enriched the lives of so many in our community. The richness you added to our lives will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to John's family. Rest in peace, my friend.
Marty ThodyI was lucky enough to call John my friend, he was my mentor who guided me with a soft hand and he was a great supporter and believer in me and for that i am honored and grateful. John had the most intense stare and the best hugs. I will miss him.
Gail Berry (nee Armstrong)John and I went to Oakridge SS together, graduating in 1967. While I moved away after Western, my sister relayed the sad news of John's passing to me today. I will always remember John's kindness in escorting me to the spring prom in grade 12 or 13, as he knew I had been nominated as one of the princesses, but I did not have a date. We had a wonderful time and I will never forget his empathy and understanding, even as a teenager. It seems that half of our class became lawyers and the other half teachers; I shared this story about John with my students many times during my career to teach the concept of kindness. I had the pleasure of a phone conversation with John at Susskinds about 20 years ago when my niece did a student placement there. It was great to catch up a bit. John leaves behind such a wonderful legacy for his family and all who had the honour of crossing his path. Gail Berry
Anne BckinHi there Susan and family My name is Anne Bocking and John was my cousin. Unfortunately I did not get to know him really well but when we did get a chance I was so impressed with his caring nature and kindness to all. He was a good son and an exceptional father. You boys are such fine men and also such good dads. Susan I have heard of all you did taking care him. I am in awe Please take care all and we are thinking of all of you at this time. Stay safe. Be well. Anne Bocking
Barbara SigurdsonJohn was my cousin, my sister Anne has posted just above me. Im from the prairies and moved to Toronto in 2007 and decided to meet my cousins. John opened his heart and pulled me in like as long lost sister. I told him every time Id see him he was the BIG BROTHER I never had. At a time I needed just to belong he gave me that, just by assuming I was included. He helped me in a difficult time.Love of people just flowed out of him. Im glad I told him I loved him and he was my brother the last time I saw him. His kindness towards others was as natural to him as breathing.My deep condolences to his family.
Michelle QuintynJohn Kennedy is the kindest, most generous and caring friend one could ever have. He embraced people in a way that made you feel valued and uplifted. With utmost thought and consideration he touched your life most often gently but sometimes with a vitality that left you excited to leap into action. I called him Mr. Non-profit which of course he didn’t like. His work in the charitable sector will leave an indelible mark on our community for generations. Like he lifted up individuals, he lifted up our entire community with efforts to help vulnerable people cross the line to prosperity, entirely reshape the sport of skiing, bring wonderful music to our ears… and thousands of gestures and gifts of his time that made a huge difference to many worthy causes. John has the good fortune of a wonderful and loving family; clearly much to do with him. This same enduring and compassionate approach, he brought to his friends, volunteer commitments and his work. We all felt like family. John served and chaired the Board of Goodwill Industries for a decade, driving growth and mission to new heights and changing the lives of thousands. We will miss him and forever and ever be grateful. Our deep and heartfelt condolences to his family and all who loved him as we did.
Larry & Denyse ReganThere are people who, when you see them, you want to go over and say hello. John was one of those people. We always enjoyed the pleasure of his company.
Marie TukaraMy career in law started in May 1989 at Aston Berg Kennedy and Morrissey and that is when I first met the formidable John Kennedy. Over these past 32 years of knowing John and working in the same firms (as we all moved to Siskinds in 2002), I developed a great admiration for John because he was such an upstanding, dedicated, smart and caring lawyer. Not only did he give so much of himself for his clients at work but he also gave back to the community. He was tireless. I also admired how John loved his family so much including Susan and his boys. John you will definitely be missed and my condolences to your family.
Barney and Cathy LawnI first met John on a professional basis at Aston Berg Kennedy and Morrissey. John was a client when we first met but as our small business grew we needed a lawyer and we became his clients. It wasn't long before our business relationship grew in to a friendship that lasted for many, many years. John was an immense help to us as small business owners over the 30 years we knew him, he wasn't just our lawyer, he was a mentor, a trusted advisor and a person whom we were both deeply fond of. John would do anything to help people and we were no exception. I recall a time when he dropped everything to join me on a three day business meeting out of town. He said 'Barney, this is too important. I'm coming with you." There was no discussion about it, he was coming. He was always there for us, and always had our backs. John will be sorely missed, he was one of a kind, with a big heart and a large voice that always instilled confidence. Our deepest condolences to Susan and family.
Deborah and Rich HunterSusan and family what a tremendous loss for your family! 14 years ago this force of nature burst through the doors at The Eddy. What we didn’t know then, we soon found out that we would have a lifelong friendship with John and Susan and Both their families. They made us one of their own. For that we are grateful. Our deepest heartfelt condolences go out to each and everyone of John’s family and friends. His loss is too great for words. To all of those who are reading this, please raise a glass to John tonight at 8:00. I’m sure he will smile down upon us and be pleased to see that so many of us are joined together as one in our celebration of his life! Loving remembered and never forgotten my friend! Much love Deb and Rich
Henry BergIt has been a sad week. I have been flooded with so many memories. I still vividly remember the call I received from John in the fall of 1982. John was working in-house at a publishing company but had a vision to start a new law firm to focus on business law. We agreed to meet for lunch. A mutual friend learned of our planning and introduced us to David Aston (The Honourable Justice Aston). The three of us continued to meet and a few months later we were looking for office space. We thought we could save money by painting the new office. But when we found ourselves at 4:30 AM at the Early Bird diner, we decided it had not been a good idea. The painter we hired quipped: "I hope you guys are better lawyers than painters!" John had a great interest in technology. So in 1984, when the revolutionary McIntosh Plus (with screen and mouse) was introduced, with his urging, we purchased a few for the office. John was also our office handyman, keeping a well equipped tool box in his office. It was not unusual to see him flat on his back under someone's desk. If there was a computer problem he could not solve, he called his friend Barney Lawn. John always kept a positive attitude no matter the problems faced. He was fair mined, honourable, balanced and generous. He was the great "connector". He loved to connect people whether they be personal or business (and, often the personal and business ended up being connected). The firm of his vision continued to flourish and grow. Nineteen years later, faced with a lease renewal and the realization that we needed greater depth for many of the clients that had grown rapidly, we merged the entire firm (lawyers and staff) with the Siskinds firm. That proved to be a wise move. And there we continued for a further 19 years. John loved the practice of law. He enjoyed solving problems. The client's problem became his problem. He represented his clients with honour, integrity and passion. He was a true professional. Although he loved the practice of law, he did not allow it to define him. He had vast interests outside the law, from time with family at the cottage, skiing, boating, motorcycling, cycling, music and the arts. He also gave generously of his time and talents to several charitable organizations. His leadership, his many skills and his enormous energy and passion, were valued by each organization he became involved with. He leaves a rich legacy--both personally and professionally. I will always be grateful to John for the tremendous blessing he has been to my professional and personal journey. My thoughts are with Susan, John's mother, the boys, grandchildren, siblings, extended family and the extensive group of friends who all cherished his life. Thank you John. Rest in Peace. Henry
Steve FifeIt saddens me greatly to hear of John's passing. He has been in my thoughts lately and I was hoping to reconnect and tell him I have never forgotten the kindness and support he showed me in a particularily difficult time. His caring nature is eveident in the comments left for his family and friends and I add mine wholeheartedly. His humour, sense of adventure and working towards a greater good will always be how I will remember him. He will be sorely missed.
Gerard Slattery [ SLATS ]To the entire Kennedy clan and close family and all those impacted by the loss of John Kennedy RIP , I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to all of you. When I first met John he was so sincere ,genuine and kind not to mention loving and so caring. I thought at the time there is no way that a person who is that busy and so involved professionally has that amount of time to stop and care as much as he did. He was so supportive and mentored me many times during my most challenging times and he advised me when I thought I knew it all and did not need it. [ boy was I wrong ] We shared many laughs even through some intense experiences which I am happy to share but another time. If you're reading this and had the best fortune to meet John you sure know what I am speaking to. He was there for me on the sidelines when I coached his sons and he was also there at Western when Pete played football and John always made his way to the Western Rugby sidelines in full support of my career as a coach and eventually as a Director of a career college. He was one of several mentors that came into my life at a crucial time and so I was so grateful and thankful for John and his family. It was with great shock that I learned of his passing and its one of those times that we stop and ask WHY NOW and WHY John as his energy, love , kindness and generosity is always so needed but especially today ! The best thing we can do for John and his legacy not to mention his family is to PASS on all the love , kindness , caring and generosity to others not just for a few weeks or months but always and often without thinking. I thought I had that market cornered until I met John K. John never stopped to think before offering his love and support as it was so habitual and built in to his frame of mind. I met John shortly after immigrating to Canada and after leaving Ireland which is a very sociable , friendly and in your face type of environment I honestly struggled with my new found environment until I met John Kennedy who I will sadly miss and the best gift I can give John is to amplify by daily attempts to help others however reaching the John Kennedy scale of kindness and support will sure take an Olympian effort. Again please note that you the Kennedy clan and John Kennedy are in my thoughts and prayers and I hope my words will bring you some comfort. May John rest in peace ! Gerry [ Slats ] Slattery
Ian DaviesJohn and I were students at Western at the same time. His path took him into law. Mine was radio and the arts. Our paths crossed again in the '90s when I was working as Director of Development for Orchestra London and he was on the Board. Later on John offered his time and advice to Sunfest during a period of transition a few years ago. John always gave back to the London community and we were richer for it. I send my deepest condolences to Susan and family. John will be sorely missed.
Christopher KennedyA CAR IN THE DITCH! One of the things Dad liked, but I know would never admit to, was a good old fashioned, real world emergency. Preferably, the kind that required one of the following - his truck, trailer, rope, carabiner and or a pulley - the use of three or more was heaven. Whether boating, canoeing, skiing, the back woods or on the highway, he was always ready. One winter we were hit with a huge snowstorm, Dad and I were carefully returning home after visiting family in Sarina. Dad was scanning the road like a hawk looking for its prey; then he spotted it - “LOOK CJ, A CAR IN THE DITCH!!” (my nickname was CJ or Christopher John). I could tell he was excited because before I finished saying, “wow that’s a bummer, thank god for CAA, eh Dad”, he had donned a winter hat, mitts and a jacket. There we were; at the side of the road in our nice clothes, late at night, in the middle of a snowstorm, staring at the back-end of a Ford Taurus. The Taurus had hit some black-ice and was buried deep in the snowbank. I said, “we should make sure they’re ok and call a tow truck; I was just hoping and being optimistic. For my dad, this was an opportunity, adventure, a challenge, an invitation from the snow gods just daring him!! He looked back at me with a grin and said, “are you kidding, I just bought new tow and axle straps, we need to test them out!!”. Like a well seasoned and gritty tow operator you see on TV, Dad leaps into action, barking out orders to his crew of one. In a few minutes the car occupants were safely warming in our truck, while we dug out the back-end of the Taurus getting the strap around the axle. After another thirty minutes or so, there was a blue Ford Taurus back on the road and ready to carry on it’s way with two very thankful ladies inside. As we climbed into his truck and got buckled in, he turned to me and said, “you see, that was no big deal right!!”. For my dad, the bumps of life (or ditches in this case) was nothing more than another opportunity to test one's metal or an invitation for adventure. I’m sad I won’t have one last emergency to share with dad; however, I’m thankful he imparted his perspective to me. A perspective that reframes life's bumps into adventures; which I will carry on with my two girls.
Stuart & Cindy CottrelleCindy and I knew John from Lake Jo. He was the President for Life of the landing association. As President, John also assumed the role as the head of the Complaints Department. The only way around this boat anchor of obligation was to sell the cottage! We will forever miss John on Lake Jo. Rest peacefully, our friend
Nevin McDougall and Nicole KushnerWe were deeply saddened to hear of John's passing. We connected with John only in the past 6 years through business and our own personal activities and greatly enjoyed his company and guidance. We will always remember John for his generosity and genuine care for others. He will be missed.
Jane and Paul Trudell Dear Susan and Family , Please accept our heartfelt condolences as you grieve the loss of John. You will be in our thoughts and prayers in the days ahead. Sincerely , The Trudell family
Susan KennedyJohn Kennedy had many personalities. Certainly all of those described above. But my favourite was the gentle one. The one who enjoyed a quiet dinner by candlelight at the end of the week; a bottle of bubbly in front of the fire to celebrate anything and everything; Sunday breakfast on the patio by our pond and waterfall; weekends away; flights to anywhere; the theatre; fine dining and a glass of brandy; walks through the English countryside, around a lake, up a mountain; a pint of best bitter with friends; strolls through small European villages; explorations through castles and ancient ruins; midnight cruises to look at the stars; and so much more. He was my husband; my life partner; my best friend; my travel mate; my protector; my every day and constant companion. The strongest yet gentlest man I’ve ever known. I’ll miss his strength, his zest for life, his humour, his kindness, his generosity and his love. He touched so very many lives and didn’t deserve the struggle he’s had these past few years. He faced it all with valiant fortitude and dignity and I can only wish and hope that he now has peace, no pain, and an eternity of rewards for the life he so well lived. My life without him will never be the same. Rest in peace my love; you’ll be forever in my heart. He really was one of a kind and will be/is missed more than can be described.
Hayley & Justin McKellarOn May 16th the earth lost a legend of a man. I was and always will be honoured to have him as my step-dad. He is the strongest man I’ve ever known. He was always positive, full of life, energy and ready for adventure. He would have given anyone he knew anything he could. Affectionately known as “Grandad” to our children he was always up for anything they wanted to do. Fishing off the dock, jumping off the boat house, going on a tube ride, helping with yard work, a dance to some favourite tunes or a cozy chat and giggle on his lap. All they had to do was ask. The answer was always “let’s do it, we’ll do it all”. His arms were always open and his attention was always fully on anyone he was with. No matter what was happening at any given time if any of us went for a visit planned or not the world would stop. He was always “present” and genuinely interested in how we were and how things were going in our lives. Goals we had set, accomplishments we had or struggles we were dealing with, his ears were always open and his hands were always there to help. I will miss our many chats, “Kennedy” size wine cheers, him here at the drop of a hat, the water sports, evening boat rides, over hearing his “jam” sessions with Justin, our traveling adventures, family events, firm arm hugs, tight shoulder squeezes, a good laugh and so much more... You are already so deeply missed. I am beyond grateful for all you have taught Justin, Nora, Dylan, Clara and I and all you have done for us. I will hold onto so many precious memories, lessons and words of encouragement for a lifetime. Until we meet again John. Cheers! And as you would always say “Let’s go... onto the next” 😍 Love you, always and forever xox
Curt CollinsI had the pleasure to meet John when I needed it the most. To say he changed my mindset and attitude would be an understatement. His time was so valuable yet he took anytime to ensure he was helping others. I will forever be greatful for the time he gave me. I will fight for what he told me to fight for, and I will always remember the wisdom he gave me. His inspiration to help others and give back to the community will never be forgotten. John you will be missed.
Lori KittermanWhat to say that hasn’t already been said. I worked with John for 18 years at Aston, Berg, Kennedy. He was a kind and patient teacher with a dedication to the practice of law and every client. John was an amazing friend and over the years he and his boys became family. I will always be thankful to him for embracing my family in his welcoming arms. His zest for life was infectious and he loved his boys with all of his heart. As a grandmother, it saddens me that his grandchildren had such a short time with him, but I know that John’s legacy will continue on with Christopher, Peter and Michael because they are kind, strong men, just like their dad. He will always be fondly remembered by all of my family for his warm smiles and bear hugs. Rest my friend.
Harold DuerhammerI only had the distinct pleasure of meeting John on two occasions. The second was the annual London Health Sciences fundraiser at which I experienced his extreme generosity and strong social networking. John demonstrated that he was truly a class act with a pure philanthropist lifestyle. The first meeting was personally more impactful as John graciously agreed to meet my daughter Kristen. She was in her first year at Western and did not have a clear career path. Lawyer was on the list but really an unknown. I was able (with the help of Chris) to arrange a meeting with John to provide some insight and input on the profession. John took time from his busy schedule and walked Kristen through his views on being a lawyer, the real day to day aspects and the reasons he loved law. Well his passion for his profession proved to have tremendous impact on Kristen and she shifted focus to law. Today when I see her as an accomplished tax lawyer, I thank Chris for his assistance and John for sharing his time and energy. For me One Key measure of a person’s life is how they offer to help, guide and influence the next generation to develop strong intellectual values and positive work ethic. John was a man who shall always be remembered by our family for achieving this and far more. Harold & Kristen Duerhammer
Andrea CooleyCondolences to the Kennedy family and John's loved ones. John was such a welcoming, kind, and warm hearted individual. It was always wonderful seeing John in the halls of Siskinds, or in the parking lot on our way to our vehicles (or his motorcycle). John had a keen sense of humour and had an infectious smile. John you will be missed. Rest in peace!
Paula LombardiIt was my pleasure to work with John at Siskinds albeit for a brief period when I moved to London in 2005. John's love for life and dedication are infectious. His commitment to the community and organizations including Boler Mountain and Orchestra London were unwavering. A wonderful man he will be missed.
Scott Chrissley I am so saddened to hear about the passing of John Kennedy. I came to know John as a friend of his son Christopher. He had a presence that made anyone in the room fell like they wanted to be near him and talk with him. Whether it be his wit, advice, or grandfatherly anecdotes he was a pleasure to be around. Even though I am not a family member he helped to make me feel welcome every time I saw him. He will be missed by all who knew him and his life celebrated for his amazing accomplishments and contributions to others.
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