In Memory

James Kennedy

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our classmate, Jim Kennedy, on February 15, 2022.  Following is his obituary as published in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, followed by a few notes from our Reunion Committee more specific to the Class of 1966.

James "Jim" L. Kennedy 

March 27, 1948 - February 15, 2022

James Lehr Kennedy passed away on Tuesday, February 15, 2022 after a courageous fight with cancer.  He is survived by his brother, Stephen, and Stephen's family - wife, Betsy and their children, Stephen and Nancy.

Jim grew up in Needham, MA and graduated from Needham High School.  He then earned a BS in Economics from The College of Wooster.  Jim continued on to hear a Master's Degree in Economics as well as a master's in Business Administration from The Ohio State University.  In 2017 he received an honorary Doctorate from Ohio Northern University.

In 1973 he started working at the Ohio Power Siting Board, and entity responsible for approving public utility applications for the construction of electric power plants and natural gas pipelines.  Jim took pride that he personally testified before the Siting Board that additional power plants were not necessary based on the actual usage of electricity by Ohio consumers, ultimately saving Ohio utility customers nearly eight billion dollars.  

Jim's experience and ingenuity led him to start Twenty First Century Communications which utilized interactive voice response systems to determine where utilities had power outages.  TFCC would ultimately serve 70% of all utility customers in the United States.  

Jim was also a talented glass blower.  In 1990, along with two OSU students, he formed Glass Axis, a non-profit public glass blowing studtio in Columbus.  After receiving a special request from a friend, he was inspired to form 'Crystal Remembrance', a memorial company that produced glass artwork combined with human or pet cremains.

Jim's great grandfather, Henry Lehr, founded Ohio Northern University, and Jim served on the ONU  Board of Trustees for nearly 25 years.  In 2017 ONU honored Jim by naming the new 100,000 square foot home of the College of Engineering as the 'James Lehr Kennedy Engineering Building'.

The family wishes to thank Ellen Brown, his assistant and friend, for the care and compassion she showed Jim in his final days.  A brother, uncle, friend, entrepreneur, author inventor and philanthropist, Jim will be greatly missed by his family and friends.  A private burial [was] held at the family plot at Needham Cemetary, Needham, MA.  A celebration of Jim's life is scheduled for the afternoon of April 2, 2022 at Glass Axis in Columbus, Ohio.

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Supplementary Notes from the NHS Reunion Committee:

While many of us lost touch with Jim after graduation for a number of years, he eventually made it one of his many lifelong projects to organize regular reunions, which he undertook for several decades.  He spent many long hours seeking out and tracking down classmates who had spread to dozens of states and several countries and became a prime inspiration for continuing the tradition.  Through his initiative, Jime relentlessly but gently motivated our class to remain in touch and gather together at least once every five years.  Gradually he sought volunteers and built a small group to join him on our "Reunion Committee" and make sure the tradition continued, which it did through our 50th Reunion in 2016. 

Planning for our 55th reunion in 2021 was fairly advanced as well until postponed by the pandemic, but even then, he was encouraging a 55+1 Reunion, rather than waiting for another five years to pass (more information coming shortly on that front!).  Unknown to many, Jim had subsidized part of the cost of the last several reunions, so that no one would be prohibited from attending simply due to ever-rising costs of getting together.  In yet another example of his commitment to our class, after we were forced to postpone our 55th, he made another generous financial contribution in 2021 to our reunion fund with the expectation that we would continue to get together as long as we were able.  

Jim's accomplishments were many and varied.  They have served to improve the quality of life for thousands of people.  Many of them may never know his name, but will certainly have been touched by his inventions, his businesses, his philanthropy, and even his artistry and inventive novels.  But most of all, those of us who had the privilege to know him will remember his kindness, his generosity and his humility.  And while he will not be able to appear at our next get-together, we have been enriched by his presence and spirit for over a half-century, and will continue to be.  We salute you, Jim, on a life well lived.  Rest in peace, friend.


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03/07/22 12:45 PM #1    

Bob Barrett

I met Jim in 7th grade, and to me he was always one of those kids you found likeable right from the start.  That kindness, humility and just plain friendliness was what I have always thought of when I think of Jim.  He was a great classmate and a great person on a far larger stage.   I will miss not seeing him again, but am pleased to have known him for over a half century and even more pleased to call him a friend.  RIP, Jim.


03/07/22 04:42 PM #2    

Susan Newman (Solomon)

I met Jim in 7th Grade at what was then Highland Junior High School.  We were in Mr. Frank Taylor's science class.  Jim's intellect was apparent to me very quickly.   

My fondest recollection of him is when were studying physcial and chemical changes.  We learned from Mr. Taylor that in a physical change the appearance or form of the matter changes but the kind of matter in the substance does not. (Think water as mist or ice or liquid.) In a chemical change, however, the kind of matter changes and at least one new substance with new properties is formed. 

In the lesson Mr. Taylor told us that he was going to cook pancakes for us at the next class and he would ask a question.  Whoever got the answer right, would indulge in the pancakes.

So at the next class, Mr Taylor brought in the ingredients and a frying pan and proceeded to cook the pancakes over a bunsen burner.  Then he asked the question:  Is this an example of a physical or chemical change. He asked the people who thought physical to go to the left side of the room and the chemical people to the right side. I thought it was chemical, but, as I watched everyone in the class walk to the left side, my confidence started to fail me.  I was afraid to go to the right side until I saw Jim get up and move to the right.  That gave me the courage to join him.  

Jim and I have talked about this day many times over the years.  We remained in touch off and on. He even visited me twice when I was living in Sedona, AZ.  We'd talk about his social life and how he would like to have a wonderful wife, but it was not to be.  

Jim's humility was palpable.  I respected him and admired his accomplishments.  I still do.  Many people will miss him.




03/08/22 09:54 AM #3    

William Kirby

Jim and I met at Mitchell school. We were in Cub Scouts together and his Mom was our den mother. From elementary school through Jr High and High School, Jim was always a kind, friendly person.We had the opportunity to get reacquainted at our 50th renunion. It was a pleasure and an honor to know him.

Bill Kirby

03/08/22 12:35 PM #4    

Thomas Good

Jim was a kind guy, thoughtful, straightforward and funny.  We will all miss him.

03/08/22 01:51 PM #5    

Ann Wellington (Lonergan)

Jim and I started off at Mitchell School together and went all the way through graduation.  Great memories of him at Mitchell.  He was a really nice person.

03/09/22 02:03 PM #6    

Lana Lang ((Powell))

Jim and I met when we were 15, at MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship). He was my first boyfriend. We dated all through High School. 

He was kind, sensitive, creative, generous and one of the smartest people I have ever known. 

Jim made the world a better place. I am so sad to hear that he has passed on. He will be missed by many. 


03/09/22 05:55 PM #7    

Bob Bunch

I was very saddened to hear of Jim’s passing. My memories of Jim at NHS are of a really nice kid with a great smile. It was at our 50th reunion, the first that I attended, that I got to see Jim again and his good nature, warmth and friendliness shown through all the activities. Jim and the organising committee did a lot of hard work to make the 50th such a wonderful event.  His interest in and commitment to our class and reunions was outstanding. We are all going to miss him. My heart goes out to Jim’s family in their time of loss.

03/10/22 01:24 PM #8    

Kristina Kradolfer ((Toothaker))

I was so shocked to hear that Jim had passed away. We shared so many classes together and usually sat near each other (alphabetically arranged seating - Kennedy, Kradolfer), so got to talk quite a bit before, during and after class. He was always kind, cheerful, self-effacing and positive. He always made me smile. I'm sure he'll be missed by many.

03/11/22 11:33 AM #9    

Judy Palmer ((O'Toole))

I just looked up what he wrote in my yearbook. He referenced our having classes with Mr. Dodge at the Pollard, wished me luck in the future and cautioned me to be good. The first word that came to mind when I read about his death was gentleman. That is how he struck me, even as a high school student.

03/11/22 11:33 AM #10    

Judy Palmer ((O'Toole))

I just looked up what he wrote in my yearbook. He referenced our having classes with Mr. Dodge at the Pollard, wished me luck in the future and cautioned me to be good. The first word that came to mind when I read about his death was gentleman. That is how he struck me, even as a high school student.

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