Kennedy clan mourns as curse claims another soul

Posted at 05/18/12 8:27 AM

NEW YORK - The Kennedy clan, America's greatest political dynasty, was in mourning once again Thursday after the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr, committed suicide by hanging herself.

Mary Kennedy's body was discovered Wednesday at her home in Bedford, New York state, reviving the notion that the family, which has dominated US politics for decades yet seen so much tragedy, is living under a curse.

After conducting an autopsy, the Westchester County medical examiner's office said the cause of death was asphyxiation due to hanging.

Mary Kennedy, 52, was the second wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr, the son of Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, and the nephew of slain president John F. Kennedy shot dead in November 1963 in Dallas.

The couple had four children aged between 11 to 17. But in 2010, they parted after 16 years of marriage, and her husband asked for a divorce.

Mary "inspired our family with her kindness, her love, her gentle soul and generous spirit," the Kennedy family said in a statement.

She "was a genius at friendship, a tremendously gifted architect and a pioneer and relentless advocate of green design who enhanced her cutting edge, energy efficient creations with exquisite taste and style."

The New York Times said that Mary Kennedy had been found hanging in a barn on the property, and that she had left a suicide note. Media reports also said that she had had problems with alcohol abuse.

An architect by training and a passionate advocate of sustainable development, Mary Kennedy had met Robert F. Kennedy Jr though his sister, Kerry, who had been her university friend. They were married in 1994, barely a month after his divorce from his first wife was finalized.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr, an environmental lawyer and radio host, was one of the 11 children of Robert F. Kennedy, the brother of John F. Kennedy, and his wife Ethel.

According to a report in the local Journal News, police were twice called to the Kennedy's home in May 2010 around the time Robert F. Kennedy Jr filed for a divorce. He has recently been photographed with the actress Cheryl Hines.

In the first incident, Mary Kennedy told police her husband was "verbally abusive to herself and her children," the newspaper reported.

During a second incident several days later, Robert F. Kennedy Jr reportedly claimed his wife was intoxicated.

"Kennedy curse strikes again," the New York Post said in its headline news, referring to a prophetic statement once made by the late Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy, who had lived through the traumatic assassinations of two of his brothers. His third brother, Joseph Kennedy, died in World War II.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr also saw one brother, Michael, die in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado, while another of his brothers, David, died from a drug overdose in Florida in April 1984.

His nephew, John F. Kennedy Jr, known as John John, the son of the late president, was killed in July 1999 along with his wife Carolyn Bessette when the plane he was piloting crashed.

Ted Kennedy, the youngest of the nine children born to Rose and Joe Kennedy, the patriarchs of the clan that would mark 20th century US history, also had to overcome scandal, drinking problems and a messy divorce.

In 1969, Kennedy drove off a bridge at Chappaquiddick in Massachusetts, killing a female companion -- Mary Jo Kopechne -- and leaving the scene of the accident.

Despite having once been tipped to follow his brother JFK into the White House, he settled into Senate becoming a liberal lion through his decades-long political career.

When Ted Kennedy lost his battle against brain cancer in August 2009, thousands turned out to pay their respects as his funeral cortege would through Washington DC to Arlington cemetery where he was laid beside his brothers.

Less than two years later, Teddy's daughter Kara Kennedy died at 51 after a long fight against lung cancer.

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