Icon of the South began his life at the Home of Compassion


Eulogies for a Timaru City Councillor speak of a man who started his life at the Home of Compassion and spent his life working for the benefit of others.

Even as a toddler the young Terry Kennedy knew what he wanted and how to get it.

His determination, persistence and stubbornness made Kennedy the man who was always helping others, his daughter Carmel Kennedy says.

His persistence saw a couple visiting Wellington take him home with them from the Home of Compassion orphanage instead of the infant they’d come for.

“My Nana always said that Terry picked them.”

Her father’s stubbornness and strong moral code for helping people saw him push hard when he saw the need, Kennedy says. He’d go out of his way to help them.

Those same characteristics saw him refuse to have anything to do with others until they toed the line. Like the young man who accidentally hit his sister at a dance. Terry Kennedy – who was a muso at the dance, refused to play until the man apologised.

He apologised eventually – but not for a week or two. During that time there were no dances. For anybody.

“Once he had decided he was right about something, he wouldn’t let go, unless he finally agreed, he was wrong,” his daughter says.

He was a strong supporter of the Catholic church, and the local Mercy sisters were never far from his thoughts.

He had a lot of ‘’time and respect’’ for the Sisters of Mercy, his daughter says.

“Sister Diana advised us that Dad would often arrive with a huge pile of fish and chips and a movie for them to watch.

“And the police would often ring Dad, when someone needed help. Dad would help organise a place to live, a job and just be someone to talk to.”

Former Timaru mayor Ray Bennett, who sat by Kennedy in many council meetings, described him as a man who was “almost an icon of South Canterbury in so many ways.

“He was a champion of anyone who was disadvantaged.

“He was a really good campaigner, a hell of a nice guy and one of the characters the council’s had in the past.”

South Canterbury District Health Board chairman Ron Luxton said Kennedy’s contribution to the board had been valued.

“He was always one to promote for the people of South Canterbury and worked diligently.

“We were very sorry to lose him [from the board] and he made his mark on the board, and we were very happy to have had him during that time.”

Terry Kennedy’s parting gift to the community is money to start raising funds for a ‘Magic Table’ – like the one pictured –  for the local dementia unit, where he spent his last days.

St Vianney’s Timaru Trust chairman Dale Walden says the trust will contribute $5,000 toward the fundraiser. The cost of the table will be around $10,000.

The Magic Table helps with increased physical activity, social interaction and cognitive reasoning.


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