CSU Vice Provost of International Affairs Jim Cooney said that the late Sen. Edward Kennedy always remembered his first name when they got together for lunch with Harvard’s Kennedy Scholars.
About once a year, Kennedy enjoyed an intimate lunch at New England’s JFK Presidential Library with a couple dozen British students attending the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Though Cooney could not recall a particular conversation with the senator his most prominent memory is when Kennedy took the time to sit down and talk with students at all the tables and built “personal relationships” every time, Cooney said
“He came to lunch to hear their stories,” he said of Kennedy, who died early Wednesday morning after a lengthy bout with brain cancer.
As a member of the senior advisory committee that directs the Institute of Politics at Harvard, created in 1966 as a memorial to his brother and former President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Kennedy helped students to “build a link between politics and the logical world,” Cooney said.
“What strikes me is Sen. Kennedy had such an ability to make the American dream real for everybody,” he said.
Local politicians and professors echoed Cooney’s comments on the life of the 40-year, veteran senator.
“The death of Sen. Ted Kennedy is agreat loss to the community,” said State Representative John Kefalas.
Kefalas called Kennedy a “visionary,” one who was committed to fairness and justice — the fundamental values of politics and society. And though Kennedy was not perfect, “and none of us are,” Kefalas said, the senator from Massachusetts was skilled at working across party lines.
Though a well-known liberal politician, Kennedy could find common ground with members of the Republican Party, including former Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Kefalas said. He asked the community to “stop and honor” Kennedy and “dedicate (itself) to his vision.”
Political Science professor John Straayer said “of course” Kennedy lived up to his name the “Lion of the Senate,” a title he earned for the major role he played in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, among others.
Gov. Bill Ritter’s statement to the press reflected Straayer’s commendation of Kennedy’s lifelong dedication to public service and dedication to a cause larger than himself.
“Today Colorado joins the nation in mourning the loss of Sen. Ted Kennedy, a tireless advocate for those who live on the margins. His unparalleled dedication to improve civil rights, health care and the plight of working families has left an indelible mark on the country and Colorado. As one of America’s most eloquent, determined and intelligent leaders, Sen. Kennedy was an inspiration to public servants everywhere,” Ritter said in the statement.
When asked if they had heard about Kennedy’s death, many students said they had not. Those who had heard the news said they did not know who he was. And those who knew who he was said they were saddened.
Fort Collins community member David Lobree said he’s from a “generation that grew up with (Kennedy) around,” and was deeply saddened by the senator’s death when he read the news this morning.
Having attended the University of California, Berkeley in the 60’s, Lobree said he related to Kennedy as a “life-long liberal,” adding, “(Kennedy) was a great advocate for the right things in our country.
News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at email@example.com.