Scott Kennedy – A Tribute
It is at the intersection of our personal and professional lives that our most precious and enduring friendships form; where that distinction of work life and private life is completely blurred. The public tributes to Scott Kennedy already have and will continue to put a spotlight on the same experience I had in getting to know him. He was selfless in a deeply principled way, a brother, in the family of peace makers, to all.
Even after Scott had “done his time” in institutional roles, he remained loyal to the work of FOR. Having served reluctantly as treasurer and as chair of the National Council (2000-2002), he maintained regular contact with staff and leadership. When Interfaith Peace Builders was “spun off” into an independent status, as so many FOR creations have been, Scott was quickly and easily recruited to that new board (to become, again, treasurer and then chair).
The earliest calls offering support, and identifying the core questions that had to be addressed in a leadership change at FOR in 2007 came from Scott. He invited me to Santa Cruz early in my tenure as executive director of FOR, in some part because he needed to take his measure of the person with whom he was corresponding and to test a readiness for his mentoring. He walked me through his personal and communal history before touring the Resource Center for Nonviolence and around Santa Cruz. He insisted on one photograph which he took of me seated in front of the sculpture titled “Collateral Damage”. He took personal pride in the success of the location of that symbol of human responsibility planted in the middle of the city.
Partly, I think, because of our shared lifelong engagement in Middle East issue, when Scott was awarded the El Hibri Foundation Peace Educator award in 2009, he saw that I had an invitation to the ceremony. After Mubarak Awad warmly introduced Scott, and Fuad El Hibri presented the plaque and check for the prize, I remember Scott’s warmly humored grin as he walked back and handed the check to his wife Kris, noting with pride that her job made his work possible. Their partnership was intimate and public in his work.
While our paths crossed fairly often, and we were on telephone conference calls and in email correspondence routinely, the last time I saw Scott and Kris was when he received the Pfeffer Award as an international peace maker from the Fellowship of Reconciliation in 2010. (Scott is pictured here with the Martin Luther King, Jr. award winner Medea Benjamin, and Rockland County Peace Award winners Tashi Dolma and Tashi Rabten.) It was touching to experience his humble appreciation for this recognition, but his joy was almost uncontainable when he discovered his daughter and her husband were flying in from France to be with them for the award ceremony. I drove them all back in to Manhattan after the award ceremony in Nyack and they tumbled out of the car laughing with the pleasure to be together as a family for a Circle Line boat tour and a night on the town together. Palpable is the word that best describes for me, Scott’s understanding of and commitment to nonviolence, to peace, and to love. Herewith our tears of gratitude and sorrow.
Mark C. Johnson
See http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19373837 for an obituary of Scott.