Born in Brooklyn, New York, the youngest of 16 children of Katherine and Louis Kennedy, Joe knew early in life that he wanted to be a physician. After graduating cum laude from St John's University his ambition and keen intelligence were noted by several members of the Catholic Physician's Guild. They encouraged him and then loaned him the amount needed to go to NY Medical College. After interning in Berkeley, Calif, he took a Residency at Johns Hopkins in OB-GYN. By 1965 he entered the Navy serving 2 years as Chief of OB at Marine Corp Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. He returned to Hopkins for a endocrinology Fellowship in the School of Medicine as well as the School of Hygiene and Public Health in Reproductive Biology.
It was during this time that his research began into the early development of oocytes. He published his first scientific paper in 1969 in the prestigious peer reviewed journal "Science". He was an attending staff member of Hopkins as an OB-GYN while also being on the faculty of the School of Medicine. His work was done in the same laboratory as John Edwards, PhD who developed the first in vitro fertilization methodology that led to the first test tube baby. Dr. Kennedy took great pride in paying back his loans to the doctors who first helped him in his career. He never forgot their collective generosity.
Subsequently Dr. Kennedy moved to UCSD School of Medicine and resumed his early human oocyte research with a 5 year Ford Foundation grant as well as two NIH grants. In 1974 he co-founded IGO (Infertility, Gynecology, Obstetrics) with two fellow faculty members. IGO went on to establish an independent and free-standing IVF program that resulted in the first IVF pregnancy in San Diego. He was valued as a skilled surgeon with excellent clinical judgment. IGO continues today as a well-respected medical group. Joe retired in 1995 from clinical practice and joined the Medical Board of California as a district medical consultant retiring just before his death. He was known by his medical-legal colleagues as a good evaluator of complicated issues and an expert in communication.
Joe found time to be active on the Boards of both the Museum of Natural History as well as the Museum of Man spending several years helping each museum grow. He was a strong supporter of the La Jolla Playhouse, The La Jolla Foundation, San Diego Rotary and the Hubbs Research Foundation.
Joe was an avid cyclist, a writer of poetry, a terrific dancer, and was always ready for an adventurous trip. He and his wife, Geri Ann, traveled extensively throughout their 25 years together. After he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer more than four years ago they took many 'last trips' to all parts of the world including Turkey, Chile, the Baltic, Southeast Asia and a 2 month trip from the Seychelles, to India and the Persian Gulf. The final last trip in October was to his roots...Ireland.
His sense of humor stayed intact as he struggled this last year. Always the optimist he founded a movie/book club for his closest friends in the past year. He was known by his wide circle of friends as intelligent, sensitive, quick-witted and loyal. Decades of shared dinner parties with favorite wines from his cellar sealed deep bonds of friendship and caring. He had an extraordinary group of devoted friends.
His death at home has left behind a family and friends that loved him dearly and are grieving his loss. He is survived by his wife, Geri Ann Warnke, daughters Jocelyn Dalponte (David), Lauren Cumberbatch (Guy), sons Joseph Kennedy Jr. and Scott Broadley Kennedy. He considered Douglas Broadley a son. He has 5 grandchildren all of whom loved to play Scrabble with him. Brothers Arthur (Barbara) and Frank (Catherine) reside in Florida as does sister Virginia Ould. Another sister, Margaret Schlichter, lives in NY.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest diseases that is seriously underfunded. At this time there is no cure and detection is difficult.
If you wish to make an online donation to Dr. Kennedy's Memorial in support of pancreatic cancer research, please click here.