Mary Lynn Kennedy, September 19, 1940~August 19, 2023

Aug 22, 2023

Mary Lynn Kennedy, 82, a resident of Willow Ave in Fayetteville, Arkansas, since 1967, took her last breath in the early morning hours of August 19, 2023, surrounded by her children and family. Mary grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Dayton, where she met her husband of 54 years, Thomas Cummins Kennedy. She went on to work professionally as a writer and editor, retiring from Arkansas Archeological Survey after more than three decades.

Mary Lynn had an eye for art and architecture and was an excellent cook.  Throughout her life, Mary Lynn had a serious reading habit averaging five mystery novels a week the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Northwest Arkansas Times, the New York Review of Books, the New YorkerMother JonesCommonweal, and many other online magazines.  She kept the Fayetteville Public Library busy reading all the well-reviewed books, biographies, and nonfiction on the shelves.  She was even known to download obscure novels the library couldn’t provide. This habit helped keep her sharp as a whip. She enjoyed discussion and loved to win an argument, earning her the sobriquet Mary, Mary quite contrary.

Mary Lynn avidly supported women’s, civil, and human rights. She volunteered with the League of Women Voters when the first voting machines were introduced in Washington County, at the Yvonne Richardson Center, tutoring children in reading, and later at Meals on Wheels.  She believed in standing up for the vulnerable, giving hospitality to all, and making the world a little easier place for everyone.

Mary Lynn was a fierce friend, mother, and sister. She was a devoted wife, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She defended those she loved with strength one could hardly believe possible for a 5ft, 95lb woman. She was there for people when they needed her and was generous with her time, care, and opinions. She loved many children along the way and took great joy in babies. Her grandchildren remember her for her sharp wit, unflagging support, and all the adventures she took them on through woods, beaches, lakes, cities, and even over the Brooklyn Bridge.

She is preceded in death by her husband Dr. Thomas C Kennedy; her parents Hugo and Helen Goecke; and her brother Micheal Goecke. She leaves behind her children, Maura Kennedy Anaya (Tony) of Athens, Ohio, and Dr. Paddy Kennedy (Alison) of Baltimore, Maryland, Eamon Kennedy, Caitlin Kennedy, of Fayetteville and Ryan Guyton of Springdale; her grandchildren Adlynn Anaya, Thomas Anaya, Jennie Kennedy (Ian Hamilton), Mateo Anaya (Mallie Curry), Anna Guyton, Jared Kennedy, Harry Kennedy, and Ian Kennedy; her great-grandson Timbre Kennedy; her siblings, Karin Gilbert (Hugh), Jim Goecke of Dayton, Ohio, Susie Mueller (Steve) of Cincinnati, Ohio, Kris Mayes (Bob) of Fayetteville, AR, Teresa Scarborough (Jim, Jessie, Jamie ) of Elkins, AR, and Jane Goecke of New Richmond, OH; her brother-in-Law Harry Kennedy (Sang) of Fresno CA; and countless friends, neighbors and loved ones whom she loved unconditionally.

During her final illness, she wrote: “I have lived a complete life. I have loved and been loved. My children are grown. I have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. What joy they have given me. I hope they will remember me as funny. My great-grandson has been an unforeseen bonus.”We love you, Mom, and hope to carry your love and support to the generations to come.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Lois Bryant c/o Lincoln School Memorial Plaque, PO Box 793 Fayetteville, AR 72702. Mary Lynn felt strongly that a historical marker to commemorate the Lincoln School, South Willow Ave, was important so future generations are reminded never to forget or repeat the history of segregation and oppression in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

A celebration of life will be held in November, the exact date to be announced.

Cremation arrangements by Beard’s Funeral Chapel.


17 Condolences

  1. Chris Huggard Kay Pritchett
    • Maura Paddy Eamon Cait Kennedy

      Thank you Chris and Kay
      You mean so much to our family as neighbors and friends and my mother love to tell us about Kay’s books and your kindnesses to her and my Dad so much love to you

  2. Janet and William Tucker

    Remembering Mary as a tough fighter with a sharp wit and a tender heart.

  3. Jeannie Whayne

    I greatly admired and loved Mary and enjoyed visiting her. My last visit was on May 23rd when I took her slices of four different cakes I had baked for a tea party. I’m not sure which one she liked the most, but she had her eye on the strawberry cake when I left. She had a terrific sense of humor and loved having all the young people around her. Her home seemed to be one of those warm and wonderful places where her friends and acquaintances were welcome not simply because she liked or loved them but because she was interested and entertained and ready to challenge them at the drop of the that. I always understood I was lucky to know her as she was unique. Now I feel it even more acutely. I felt the same about Tom Kennedy. What a pair they were! They were representative of a generation and perspective that is rapidly disappearing. Their like is never to be seen again.

    • Maura

      Thank you Janet and William love to you and your family

    • Maura Paddy Eamon Caitlin Kennedy

      Thank you so much Jeannie! She loved you and admired you a great deal and was thrilled by your last visit with the cake as she texted me about ! and that is so true about how she loved and was entertained by young and old friends .
      Much love and gratitude to you for these words and for your friendship with my parents

  4. George Sabo III

    I had the honor and privilege of working with Mary Lynn for many years at the Arkansas Archeological Survey. She was truly a special person. Her legacy will endure.

    • Maura Paddy Eamon Caitlin Kennedy

      Thank you George Sabo

  5. Denise “Nese” Nemec

    Mary Lynn gave me meaningful work at the Survey, and she treated me as an equal despite her much higher ranking in that system. When she let out her signature laugh, you knew something truly funny had crossed her path. She was a fearless dynamo, handling Survey publications and attendant personalities with professionalism and aplomb, but everyone knew her heart was with Tom, her kids, and her grands. May our own MLK rest in peace.

  6. Steve R Foster

    I met Mary a few times. A force of Nature!

  7. Sonia Tsai


    As before when I visited you, I had a box of cranberry cream scones from co-op in hand that Saturday around noon. I told Maura I came to visit you. She told me you passed away the night before. How I am so sorry to have missed you.
    I went to visit Genie the next day. She hangs in there.
    Rest in peace.



  8. Deborah Sabo

    Mary Lynn was my mentor at Arkansas Archeological Survey. I eventually followed in her footsteps as editor for the Survey’s publications program. I will always remember her as such a lively and helpful person. I am so grateful to have known her. My condolences to all her family. I can well imagine how much she will be missed.

  9. Glenda Cooper

    Mary was a remarkable woman, full of life and good ideas. I loved her.

  10. Janine Parry

    I’m so sorry to learn of Mary’s passing. I had the joy of living – and caring for twin babies/toddlers – across the street from Tom and Mary for more than a decade: what a joy it was to know them both, and to be invited to their St. Patrick’s Day parties!!! Warmth and energy radiated far and wide because of both of them. So much love to their whole extended clan … thank you for sharing your caring, hilarious, beautiful mother with the rest of us! <3 -janine (and Paul and Kate)


      Janine, I will never forget when she visited me once in Ohio; the first thing she said was, ” We are getting twins across the street!” She was so happy as two new babies were coming into her life! Thank you for sharing!

  11. Tammy King

    The few times I was around Mary, she always me me laugh. Such a delightful, wicked sense of humor! I have fond memories of Tom & Mary having such a great time and being the perfect hosts at their St. Patrick’s Day gathering. Good memories 🙂


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