John’s legacy: extraordinary life and extraordinary gift

Cancer Council NSW

John Kennedy’s life may sound like something out of a film.

Though John’s longtime friend, Rodney Rimes, describes John as incredibly modest.

Rodney says that John was “always beautifully dressed. He was a handsome and tall man. He was also a great mystery, quiet and very private.”

As a young man, he set aside his studies to serve in the Air Force during World War 2, then returned to study Law at The University of Sydney.

Eventually, his studies led to a decorated career as a lawyer, setting up his own firm in Liverpool. While John had helped countless people throughout his field of work, he continued to do so after he died in 2020, leaving a gift in his will for Cancer Council NSW that totalled $7.4 million.

News of his mother’s death while serving in WW2

Naturally, John was a bright student. He performed well at school and was accepted into university to study economics and commerce before being called up to WW2.

John served in the Air Force in New Guinea during WW2 for two to three years.

It was during his time in New Guinea that John’s mother died from brain cancer.

Although he was told of his mother’s brain cancer diagnosis through telegrams, the news of his mother’s eventual death wasn’t any easier to bare as they were very close.

John’s long-time friend, Rod, reflects on a conversation where John said, “I was there in New Guinea and that is when I got the telegram and heard about mum. That was the worst day of my life.”

Life after the war

When John returned from war, he continued his studies to complete a degree at the University of Sydney Law School, graduating in the class of 1950.

While practising law, John would continue travelling and catching up with his fellow graduates regularly throughout his life.

In time, John bought a law practice in Liverpool. He partnered with his dear friend the late Paul Winter and then later Rod, to form Kennedy, Winter and Rimes Solicitors.

But again, John’s life was impacted by someone close to him being diagnosed with cancer.

John never married but had formed a close friendship with a woman named Shirley Bridges, who sadly died from breast cancer.

Rod remembers Shirley’s death as a very difficult time for John, who was by her bedside and stayed there until she died. “It had an impact on him”, says Rod.

Legacy beyond his life’s work

Besides his career as a lawyer, John wore many hats, including acting as caregiver to his father and sister.

He was involved in several community activities, from serving as Deputy Chair of Wesgo Radio, to being a proud long-serving Rotarian.

He also used his passion for business to support businesspeople relocating to Australia from overseas.

With a significant legacy already built, John was inspired by his personal connection with cancer to ensure his impact continued long after his death.

That’s why he decided to leave a gift in his will for Cancer Council NSW.

While any contribution goes a long way to help those affected by cancer, John left an incredibly impactful $7.4 million in his will, to help move the world closer towards a cancer free future.

These funds will go towards inspiring new treatments and ways to prevent cancer, research breakthroughs, as well as services that provide support for people during and after a cancer diagnosis.

We thank John for his extraordinary gift.

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