American Veteran 04

James Drake Kennedy, Jr.

November 11, 1924 ~ February 4, 2020 (age 95)


James Drake Kennedy, Jr was born November 11, 1924 in Chattanooga TN and died on February 4, 2020 at the age of 95 in his home on Lookout Mountain, TN.

Kennedy Jr was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Dorothy Hellerstedt Kennedy, his father James Drake Kennedy, Sr, mother, Jesse McKenzie Kennedy and sister, Mary Kathryn Kennedy McQuiddy.

He leaves behind his son, James Drake Kennedy, III, (Kathleen) Alexander City, AL, and daughters, Jane Kennedy Greene, (Greg) Dallas, TX, Elizabeth Kennedy Spratlin, (Tyler) Atlanta, GA, Molly Kathryn Kennedy, Chattanooga,TN, and nine grandchildren, Gregory Greene, Jr (Lillian), Landon Greene Jackson (Tyler), Drake Greene, Liza Spratlin, Kate Spratlin, Dorothy Spratlin, James Kennedy (Betsie), Elizabeth Kennedy Lucia (Ryan) and Will Kennedy and three great grandchildren, Eleanor Greene, Louisa Greene, and Genevieve Dougherty.

Education:  Bright School

                   Baylor School

                   Dartmouth College

Military Service: Squad Leader, Combat Infantry, Company C 116 Infantry Division

Landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France late June 1944. Wounded in St Lo, France and Aachen, Germany. Awarded Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, European Campaign Ribbon with 3 bronze stars, Combat Infantry Badge, and 2 Bronze Stars For Heroic or meritorious Service in Combat

Employment: American National Bank 1948 to 1950

                      Cherokee Warehouses, Inc  Secretary Treasurer 1950 to 1984

                      Chairman Cherokee Warehouse, 1984 to 1990

                      Chairman Kenco Group 1990 to 2002

                      Kenco Group, Chairman Emeritus  2002 to Present

Industry/Business Associations: Executive Board American National Bank and Trust (Suntrust)

                                                      Chairman, Southeast Warehouse Association

                                                      Chairman American Warehouse Association

                                                      Chosen as a member of the UTC Business School

                                                      Entrepreneur Hall of Fame    

Civic Involvement: Campaign Chairman and President of United Way of Chattanooga

                              Campaign Chairman and President Allied Arts of Chattanooga

                              Chairman Hunter Museum of American Art

                              Chairman University of Chattanooga Foundation

                              Served as Commissioner of Fire and Police and Treasurer for The Town of      

                              Lookout Mountain, Tennessee

                              President of Chattanooga Rotary Club

                              Board member of The Lookout Mountain Elementary School and The Girls   Preparatory School

                              Chairman of the Chattanooga Red Cross

                              Board member Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

Kennedy Jr was a life-long member of the Church of the Good Shepherd on Lookout Mountain and served on the vestry for many years.

Kennedy Jr founded Cherokee Warehouse on August 1, 1950 with his brother in law, Sam Smartt and father, James Drake Kennedy, Sr who provided the capital to start the business. The two young men, Kennedy Jr and Smartt were the only employees and they set about trying to make a living with very little capital, but a lot of desire. The result is today a major full service logistics business, KENCO, Inc employing several thousand people in Chattanooga and across the country.

Kennedy Jr was a pioneer in what he called Contract Warehousing . At a time when most of his competitors in the “public warehouse“ business  confined themselves to small local operations Kennedy Jr and his  great team of hard working, loyal associates at Kenco, Cherokee’s new name, began something very different. They developed relationships with Fortune 500 companies across the country operating large distribution centers providing modern day logistics services. He was dedicated to “the man or woman on the floor” and appreciated all they did. Kenco was in fact one of the first companies that could truly be called a third party logistics provider.

Kennedy Jr also started Chattanooga Disposal, one of the first commercial waste disposal companies in the area which he ultimately sold to Browning Ferris Industries. He also started Kenco Toyota Lift which is now a large multi-state provider of materials handling equipment and service.

His involvement in local civic organizations was never ending and demonstrate his love for Chattanooga and its people. For several years he was the auctioneer for The Hunter Museum’s annual Spectrum auction. In 1995 he was recognized as “The Chattanooga Area Manager of the Year”. Recently through his beloved Kennedy Foundation he made the largest gift to the campaign for what is now The Children’s Kennedy Outpatient Center  at Erlanger. In his seventies Kennedy Jr went back to college and took two years of study in English literature and Fine Arts at UTC. This experience led him to donate funds though the Foundation to the annual Kennedy Shakespeare Lecture and he has established a poetry scholarship and professorship at UTC in honor of his late wife, Dorothy Hellerstedt Kennedy.

Kennedy Jr loved to work crossword puzzles and the daily Jumbles, priding himself in the ability to complete the puzzle without a pencil even when he turned 95. He always enjoyed spending time at Litchfield Beach, SC with friends and family. Kennedy Jr was a great leader in his community, a wonderful father and a very giving man. His family and friends will always miss him. His was more than a “slice of life.”

The family wants to thank Gail Caylor for her never ending attention, friendship and loyalty she gave to Dad for over the last 11 years. Words cannot express our gratitude.  We want to also thank another caregiver, Irene McGuire, for her special attention to Dad.  We greatly appreciate Tammy Selvidge and all she’s done for Dad as Dad had always said “she is my right hand.” Finally, we want to thank Jessica Nobles and her staff at Nobility Home Solutions for their professional care and kindness to Dad for over a year and Avalon Hospice for their exceptional assistance in the medical needs for the comfort of Dad in the last days of his life.

In lieu of flowers please send a memorial donation to your charity of choice or to Erlanger Health System Foundation (Children’s Hospital) 975 E. Third Street Chattanooga, TN 37403.

The Graveside service is planned for Sunday, February 9, 2020 at 2 PM at Forest Hills Cemetery and afterwards “the celebration of life” will be held at the Lookout Mountain Golf Club, 1730 Wood Nymph Trail, Lookout Mountain, GA. Reverend Robert Childers of The Church of the Good Shepherd will officiate the service.

Arrangements by Heritage Funeral Home & Crematory, Battlefield Parkway.


Graveside Service
February 9, 2020

2:00 PM
Forest Hills Cemetery
4016 Tennessee Ave
Chattanooga, TN

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