The mother of President John F. Kennedy and Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy, Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy was a woman of strong convictions and character. Even though she is best remembered as the mother of the president, there was so much more to her personality. She was a socialite and fundraiser known for her deep catholic faith and iron will. The daughter of a Boston mayor she was educated in convents and had a comfortable upbringing. The gutsy young woman began dating Joseph Patrick Kennedy, the son of her father’s rival in spite of her father’s opposition and finally ended up marrying him. Her husband was an ambitious man who eventually became a multi-millionaire. The couple went on to have nine children and Rose took it upon herself to give her children the best upbringing they would get. Her husband, though very successful was a man given to philandering and had numerous high profile affairs. But she never wavered in her commitment towards her family and encouraged her children to reach for the stars. She was also a dedicated philanthropist and a fundraiser for various charities especially those which worked for the betterment of the mentally handicapped. She achieved a celebrity status after her son John became the president.
Childhood & Early Life
She was the daughter of Boston Mayor John Francis Fitzgerald and Mary Josephine Hannon. She was their eldest daughter and had five younger siblings.
She received her primary education from the Girl’s Latin School in Massachusetts before moving on to a convent school in Netherlands. She graduated from Dorchester High School in 1906.
She also received piano lessons from the New England Conservatory. Her father was a well-to-do man who gave her a comfortable upbringing.
She wished to attend Wellesley College but her father forbade her. So she went to the Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart instead.
Since her father was a politician, she was well aware of the political scenario and also accompanied her father on his tour of Europe in 1908.
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She began dating Joseph Patrick Kennedy, the son of businessman and politician Patrick Kennedy. Her father did not approve of this relationship as Patrick Kennedy was a political rival of his.
After seven years of courtship, she married Kennedy in 1914 despite her father’s opposition. The couple went on to have nine children. Her husband prospered over the years and became a multi-millionaire.
Joseph became the youngest bank president in the history of U.S. and was financially very successful. But he failed to be a good husband, and ignored the family. He also had numerous affairs with other women.
She became addicted to prescription drugs in order to cope with the stress of her marital problems. In spite of this, she remained a devoted mother to her nine children and motivated them to rise high in life.
A slew of tragedies hit the family hard during the 1940s. Her daughter Rose Marie underwent a lobotomy which left her incapacitated in 1941 while her son Joseph and daughter Kathleen died in 1944 and 1948 respectively.
A highly religious woman, she found solace in religion to accept these tragedies and move on. Throughout her life she remained a staunch Catholic devoted to the church.
Her son John became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1947 and served in this post till 1953 after which he became the U.S. Senator.
In 1961, John Kennedy became president of the United States. Her son Edward became U.S. Senator in 1962 while Robert followed suit as a Senator in 1965.
After John became the president, she achieved the status of a quiet celebrity. She was known to be good looking and glamorous even during her later years. She was deeply involved in various charities.
Tragedy struck again when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and Senator Robert Kennedy was shot to death in 1968. Rose once again faced these tragedies with great poise and courage; her faith in God never wavered.
A socialite and philanthropist, she rose to the status of a celebrity when her son John became the president of the U.S. Known for her quiet dignity and youthful glamour she was passionately involved in various charities and led the Grandparents’ Parade at the Special Olympics.
Personal Life & Legacy
She married Joseph Kennedy after seven years of courtship in 1914. They couple had nine children over the course of their 55 year marriage. She stood by her husband’s side in spite of his numerous affairs.
She suffered a stroke in 1984 and had to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She died in 1995 at the age of 104. She was the proud matriarch of a large family consisting of her five surviving children, and several grandchildren and great grandchildren at the time of her death.
This famous socialist was the mother of President John F. Kennedy and grandmother of actress Maria Shriver and actor cum activist Christopher Lawford.