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Patricia Kennedy Lawford dies at 82

Patricia Kennedy Lawford, the sister of President John F. Kennedy, died at her New York home of complications of pneumonia on Sunday. She was 82.
KENNEDY lawford
Patricia Lawford, at left, looks on as her brother Sen. John F. Kennedy speaks to the Democratic convention in Los Angeles in 1960.AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Patricia Kennedy Lawford, a sister of President John F. Kennedy who forged a marriage between politics and Hollywood with her wedding to actor Peter Lawford, has died in her New York home, a spokeswoman for her brother said. She was 82.

Lawford, who is credited with helping the careers of one of America’s most prominent political families, died Sunday of complications from pneumonia, said a spokeswoman for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

“My sister Pat is irreplaceable,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Everyone who knew Pat adored her. She was admired for her great style, for her love and support of the arts, her wit and generosity — and for the singular sense of wonder and joy she brought into our lives.”

Patricia Kennedy was the sixth child and fourth daughter of Rose and Joseph Kennedy’s nine children.

“Pat was our beloved mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend,” the family’s statement said. “She reminded us always of the true meaning of family, and her most precious gift to each of us was her unconditional love and support.”

Tireless supporter
While always a tireless supporter of her brother’s political campaigns, inspired by her father’s career in the movie industry, Lawford set her sights on Hollywood at a young age soon after her graduation from Rosemont College.

She began working as an assistant in NBC’s New York production department and then moved to Los Angeles with the goal of becoming a producer and director. She worked as an assistant for Kate Smith’s radio program, and for Father Peyton’s Family Theater and Family Rosary Crusade, according to the Web site for the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

She met British actor Peter Lawford through her brother, the future president, in 1949. They were married in 1954 and had four children before divorcing in 1965.

Lawford traveled the country in support of her brother’s presidential campaign in 1960 and was also involved in the political campaigns of Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy.

‘Her beautiful heart’
She moved in 1965 to New York City, where she became a supporter of the city’s arts scene. She founded the National Committee for the Literary Arts and also worked with the National Center on Addiction and with the Kennedy Library.

“Throughout her life, Pat was constantly inspiring and helping others,” the family statement said. “Whether it was campaigning for her brothers, or championing literacy and the arts, her purest gift was her beautiful heart.”

Lawford is survived by children Christopher, Sydney, Victoria and Robin and 10 grandchildren. Memorial and funeral arrangements were pending.