Victoria Reggie Kennedy
|Born||Victoria Anne Reggie
February 26, 1954
|Alma mater||Tulane University|
|Known for||Second wife of Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy|
|Spouse(s)||Grier Raclin (1981–1990)
Ted Kennedy (1992–2009)
Early life and education
The second of six children, she was born Victoria Anne Reggie in Crowley, Louisiana to Louisiana judge and banker Edmund Reggie and Doris Ann Boustany, a Democratic national committeewoman. She is of Lebanese descent, as all her grandparents were Maronites from Lebanon, who immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Louisiana. Her grandparents became important players in the local Roman Catholic church, and later their children became involved in business and politics.
Reggie's immediate family was wealthy because of money from her mother's family's interest in the Bunny Bread baking concern in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was raised in a family that was constantly involved in politics and campaigns. At the 1956 Democratic National Convention, her father helped deliver his state for John F. Kennedy's unsuccessful bid for the vice-presidential nomination. Over time, John Kennedy developed a close social relationship with the family. Her mother cast the only Louisiana delegate vote for Ted Kennedy at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, although State Senator Tony Guarisco may have also been recruited to vote for Kennedy.
Reggie attended parochial schools growing up and was a straight-A student. She attended Newcomb College at Tulane University in New Orleans, where she graduated with a bachelor of arts in English, magna cum laude, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was president of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She then received her Juris Doctor degree, summa cum laude in 1979 from Tulane University Law School. There she was a member of Tulane Law Review. Her education at Tulane, along with twenty years of other Tulane tuition for her brothers and sisters, was paid for by scholarships awarded by a political ally of her father.
After law school, Reggie clerked for Judge Robert Arthur Sprecher at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. As an attorney, she specialized in bank law. She met her first husband, Grier C. Raclin, a telecommunications attorney (who later became a senior executive at Charter Communications in St. Louis, Missouri), when they clerked together at the Everett McKinley Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago. Their 1981 church wedding was in Crowley and "feted 400 guests with a week's worth of parties."
Following marriage, the couple moved to Washington, D.C., where she practiced banking and savings and loan law and restructuring and bankruptcy law for Keck, Mahin & Cate. She was made partner there, and was known to be "charismatic and hard-driving" and a tough negotiator in settlement talks and "as a real star" for her ability to work on complicated financial transactions.
Reggie and Raclin had two children, Curran (born 1982) and Caroline (born 1985). They were divorced in 1990. Upon her divorce, she was left to juggle her career as a lawyer with her role as a single mother of two young children.
Marriage to Ted Kennedy
While the Kennedy and Reggie families were friends for many years, Vicki remembers (but Senator Kennedy did not) their first meeting when Vicki was a summer intern in his Senate office's mailroom the year following her college graduation. They began dating after meeting again in June 1991 at a party celebrating her parents' 40th wedding anniversary. Ted Kennedy said of this meeting, "I had known Vicki before, but this was the first time I think I really saw her." The relationship became serious in September 1991. They were engaged in March 1992, and married July 3, 1992, in a civil ceremony at his home in McLean, Virginia. His political career had suffered from a long period of womanizing, drinking, and adverse publicity, and she is credited with stabilizing his personal life and helping him resume a productive career in the Senate. Kennedy was devoted to her two children.
In Kennedy's 1994 senatorial re-election campaign against Mitt Romney, she was credited by The New York Times with "giving him a political advantage in a difficult contest." For a Boston, Massachusetts, reception she organized, 1,200 influential New England women met five of Kennedy's Senate colleagues. In[clarification needed] his campaigns and his senatorial work, she became his principal assistant and closest political advisor. By 1997, she no longer practiced law. She came to the aid of the greater Kennedy family following the 1999 plane crash that took the life of John F. Kennedy, Jr.
She is president and co-founder of Common Sense about Kids and Guns, an advocacy group begun in 1999 which seeks to reduce gun deaths and injuries to children in the U.S. She is a member of the board of trustees of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and has served on the board of Stop Handgun Violence in Boston. She is a board member of Catholic Democrats and authored the preface for their 2009 book, The Catholic Case for Obama. She was named a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on December 4, 2009.
Illness and death of Ted Kennedy
Following her husband's May 2008 diagnosis of brain cancer, she became his primary caregiver, dealing with the Kennedy clan along with Ted's political connections. She assisted him in planning his course of treatment.
Senator Kennedy died on August 25, 2009. Throughout four days of his lying in state, a funeral service and quiet burial, his widow maintained a public face of composure, dignity, and gratitude to staffers and citizens who lined the streets and waited at the U.S. Capitol to pay their respects.
Upon his death, some thought that she would be appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to take the Senator's seat until the special election could take place, but she declined and the governor instead appointed long-time Kennedy associate Paul G. Kirk. Some Democratic officials hoped she would agree to run for Senate to finish out her husband's term, but she declined again and instead endorsed Martha Coakley for the special election to fill the vacant seat. Coakley was defeated by Scott Brown. A year later, speculation continued as some noted Democrats saw her as their best chance to take back Sen. Kennedy's former seat from Brown and the Republicans in the 2012 election; however, she again declined, and the Democratic nomination was awarded to Elizabeth Warren, who went on to defeat Brown in November 2012.
Since the Senator's death, Kennedy has spoken at graduation ceremonies and received honorary degrees from UMass Boston, Lesley University, and the University of Maryland in the Spring of 2010. She also surprised the 95 members of the graduating class of Harwich High School on Cape Cod by accepting their invitation to speak at their June 2010 graduation.
Kennedy was invited to speak at the spring commencement of the Catholic Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts, but at the request of Bishop Robert McManus of the Diocese of Worcester, Kennedy was disinvited by the college. The bishop and other Catholic organizations had expressed reservations that a stalwart pro-choice advocate speak at a Catholic university.
- "The Kennedys" (film; transcript available). American Experience. PBS. 2003-10-02. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
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- Gliatto, Tom (1992-03-30). "Time to Marry? Right, Said Ted". People. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
- Romano, Lois (2008-06-07). "Senator's Wife Is His First Mate, Adviser and Caregiver". The Washington Post via The Ledger. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
- Adam Clymer (1999). Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography. William Morrow. pp. 492–493. ISBN 0-688-14285-0.
- "Common Sense about Kids and Guns: Kennedy Bio". "Mrs. Kennedy received her undergraduate degree, a B.A. magna cum laude, from Newcomb College of Tulane University, in New Orleans, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and other honor societies and was involved in student government. She was graduated summa cum laude from the Tulane Law School in 1979, where she was an editor of the Tulane Law Review and was inducted in the Order of the Coif. In May 1998, Mrs. Kennedy received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Suffolk University Law School in Boston for her service to her community."
- Tyler, Bridges (1995-10-15). "Records Reveal More Perks to the Powerful; The Tulane Scholarship Scandal Part II". The Times-Picayune.
- "Louisiana Scholarships Have Political Pedigree". The New York Times. 1995-10-17. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- Staff writer (Undated). "Corporate Governance — Biography; Grier C. Raclin — Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer". Charter Communications. Accessed 2009-09-01.
- Blumenfeld, Laura. (1992-03-20, page b.01). "Victoria Reggie, Ready for Teddy; Her Friends and Family Agree. She's Perfect for Him", The Washington Post, .
- Trueheart, Charles (1992-03-15, page A.05). "Kennedy Announces Plans to Wed Washington Lawyer." The Washington Post.
- Bishop, Ian (2008-05-22). "Ted Kennedy: I'd Like Wife to Take Seat". Daily News.
- Von Drehle, David (29 August 2009). "Kennedy Is Laid to Rest in Arlington Cemetery". Time. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
- Fee, Gayle; Raposa, Laura (2009-02-20). "Is Vicki Kennedy Ready to Succeed?". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
- Parnes, Amie (2009-08-29). "Next Step Not Clear for Vicki Kennedy". The Politico. Accessed 2009-09-01.
- Healy, Orla (2009-08-30). "Race to Follow Ted Waits for Family to Make up their Minds". Irish Independent. Accessed 2009-09-01.
- LeBlanc, Steve (30 August 2009). "Push begins to choose successor to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat". AP via masslive.com. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
- "Victoria Kennedy endorses Martha Coakley in race for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat". AP via masslive.com. 7 January 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
- Akers, Mary Ann; Philip Rucker (15 August 2010). "Prominent Democrats want Kennedy's widow to run for his Senate seat". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
- Lehigh, Scot (12 January 2011). "A word with Kennedy". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Seelye, Katharine Q. (2 June 2012). "Warren Fends Off Party Challenger in Massachusetts Race". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Milligan, Susan (5 June 2010). "At UMass Boston’s graduation, a vision shared". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- Walker, Childs (21 May 2010). "Victoria Kennedy tells UM grads that no challenge is too great". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- Milton, Susan (2 June 2010). "Victoria Reggie Kennedy to address Harwich grads". Cape Cod Times. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- CCToday (14 June 2010). "Victoria Reggie Kennedy speaks at Harwich High School graduation ceremony". Cape Cod Today. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- 2013 Annual Luncheon—Honoring Victoria Reggie Kennedy
- Joan Mangum, in Beverly Hills Courier, August 30, 2013, Volume XXXXVIII, No. 34, p. 16
- "Victoria Reggie Kennedy", her biography at Common Sense about Kids and Guns
- "Victoria Reggie and Ted Kennedy Marriage Profile", (undated) by Sheri Stritof and Bob Stritof at About.com
- reggiefamilyarchives.com Judge Edmund M. Reggie Family Archives