Mary Richardson Kennedy

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Mary Richardson Kennedy
Mary Kathleen Richardson

(1959-10-04)October 4, 1959
DiedMay 16, 2012(2012-05-16) (aged 52)
EducationThe Putney School
Rhode Island School of Design
Alma materBrown University
Occupationinterior designer, architect, philanthropist
Spouse(s)Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
  • John F. Richardson (father)
  • Nancy Higgins (mother)
RelativesKyra Kennedy (daughter)
FamilyKennedy family

Mary Kathleen Kennedy, née Richardson, (October 4, 1959 – May 16, 2012) was an American interior designer, architect, and philanthropist. She was a proponent of green building and was a co-founder of the Food Allergy Initiative, the largest fund for food allergy research in the United States. Her 2010 legal separation from her husband, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., was highly publicized. Her subsequent suicide in 2012 also received national media attention.

Early life[edit]

Kennedy was born as Mary Kathleen Richardson. Kennedy was raised in Bayonne, New Jersey. Kennedy's father was John F. Richardson, an attorney and a professor at Stevens Institute of Technology. Kennedy's mother was Nancy Higgins, a public school English teacher.[1][2] Kennedy had four sisters and two brothers.[2]

Kennedy attended The Putney School, where she became friends and roommates with Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy. She later roomed with Kerry Kennedy in college and served as her maid of honor at her wedding in 1990 to Andrew Cuomo.[3][1]


Kennedy graduated from Brown University and studied architectural design at the Rhode Island School of Design.[4]

Later life[edit]

Kennedy married Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the brother of Kerry Kennedy, on April 15, 1994, aboard a research vessel on the Hudson River. They had four children: John Conor Richardson Kennedy, Kyra LeMoyne Kennedy, William Finbar Kennedy, and Aidan Caohman Vieques Kennedy.[5] She was the stepmother of Robert Francis Kennedy III and Kathleen Rose Kennedy, her husband's two children from his previous marriage to Emily Ruth Black.[6]


Kennedy worked for the design firm Parrish Hadley as an architectural designer.[1] Her work involved green building practices and was certified through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.[7] In 1998 she co-founded the Food Allergy Initiative, the largest private fund for food allergy research in the United States.[8]

Personal life[edit]

On May 12, 2010, Kennedy's husband filed for divorce. Three days later she was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.[1] She reportedly struggled with alcoholism and substance abuse.[6] A court ordered that full temporary custody of her children be granted to her estranged husband.[9]


On May 16, 2012, Kennedy was found dead at her home in Bedford, New York.[10][11] Her death was ruled as a suicide by hanging.[12] An autopsy report revealed that she had antidepressants in her blood system.[13] Her funeral, organized by the Kennedy family, was held at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Bedford, New York.[14][15] On May 21, 2012 a memorial service organized by the Richardson family was held at the Standard Hotel in Manhattan.[16] A legal battle between her husband and her brother, Thomas W. Richardson, ensued over which family should have control over her remains.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d Collins, Nancy (16 May 2013). "New Questions Arise About Mary Richardson Kennedy's Suicide". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b "John F. Richardson, Taught at Stevens". The New York Times. 1971-12-08. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  3. ^ Curtis, Wayne (9 March 2019). "Why Aren't There More Classic Irish Whiskey Cocktails?". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  4. ^ Kennedy, Kerry (22 May 2012). "Ode to My Best Friend -- Mary Richardson Kennedy". Huff Post. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Mary Kennedy's death still puzzles friends". USA TODAY. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Mary Richardson Kennedy, Stepmonster?". Psychology Today. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Mary Richardson Kennedy leaves legacy of green design". MNN - Mother Nature Network. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Mary Kennedy: 'Green' designer, wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  9. ^ EDT, Laurence Leamer On 6/11/12 at 1:00 AM (11 June 2012). "Behind Mary Kennedy's Long Meltdown". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  10. ^ Flegenheimer, Matt; Rashbaum, William K. (16 May 2012). "Mary Kennedy, Estranged Wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Is Found Dead". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  11. ^ Ed Payne. "Mary Kennedy's family blasts stories on her death". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  12. ^ "What Drove Her to Suicide? Mary Kennedy: 1959-2012". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  13. ^ "Antidepressants in RFK Jr. wife's system". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  14. ^ Mongelli, Lorena (20 May 2012). "RFK Jr. rejects blame during eulogy at wife Mary Richardson Kennedy's funeral". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Mary Richardson Kennedy's funeral". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  16. ^ a b Leland, John (21 May 2012). "3rd Ceremony Held for Wife of Robert Kennedy Jr". Retrieved 18 March 2019.