XENIA — A popular downtown area shopping area prominently displays his name.
But “Kennedy Korners” does not adequately describe Jim Kennedy’s total contribution to Xenia. He impacted more than a “korner.”
The longtime Xenia resident died April 4, leaving a big void throughout the community. From being a grocer to a Bible bookstore owner to the Rotary president, Mr. Kennedy was all about Xenia.
“He wanted Xenia to succeed on all levels,” said Mayor Sarah Mays. “In family, in faith, in prosperity for the community. It’s a loss for the whole community. Xenia just lost one of its biggest advocates.”
Mays recalled spending time in Kennedy’s Bible Bookstore, one of several businesses owned by Mr. Kennedy.
“The amount of time I spent in that store,” Mays recalled. “Jim was always wanting to see Xenia be a place that was family oriented, but also a place that was spiritually moving forward.”
For Assistant City Manager Jared Holloway, Mr. Kennedy provided that coveted first job every teenager sought out.
“I have great memories of working summers at Kennedy’s Garden Center with Jim and the entire Kennedy family,” Holloway said. “He, Carol, and their family taught me a lot about plants, business, and customer service, and I will always appreciate Jim’s kindness and trust in me as an employee and friend. I personally appreciate Jim’s commitment and dedication to Xenia, and his desire for its continued growth and prosperity. Even as I began working for the city, I enjoyed our many interactions, and sought his advice and thoughts for bettering the community. My prayers are with the Kennedy family, and all of us mourning the loss of Jim.”
Mr. Kennedy owned and operated Kennedy’s Grocery Store, which was established in 1917, and the aforementioned garden center — rebuilding both after the 1974 tornado. He opened the bookstore to continue serving the community, and then redeveloped and continued operating Kennedy Korners Shopping Center with his family.
That’s how Edward Jones financial advisor Martin Bartik came to know Mr. Kennedy.
Previously in another part of town, Bartik wanted to relocate to Kennedy Korners.
“Popped my head over here one day,” Bartik said. “I said, ‘Jim, I want to move over there.’ He said ‘Let’s make it happen.’”
Bartik has been in his current location since 2008.
“Great landlords,” he said. “Walking by, they pop their head in. Very attentive to whatever we needed.”
Mr. Kennedy was always attentive to what Xenia needed.
He served the city as the first president of Xenia Economic Growth Corporation, was a past president and board member of the Xenia Area Christian Men’s Fellowship, the host of Xenia’s Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, board chairman for The Cleft Student Center, past president and active member of Xenia Rotary, and a former board member of the Greene County Community Foundation (Greene Giving).
In 2011, Mr. Kennedy received the prestigious F.M. Torrence Award from the Xenia Area Chamber of Commerce for more than 45 years of voluntary service to the Xenia community. And from 1972 to 2020 he never missed a Christmas ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.
“(He was a) pillar of the community,” Bartik said. “He’ll be sorely missed. The Kennedys, they’re one of the people when you think of Xenia, you think of the Kennedys. The Kennedy name is synonymous with Xenia.”
Visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday at Faith Community United Methodist Church, Xenia. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Faith Community United Methodist Church.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.