Remembering Rosemary, the forgotten Kennedy

Published 8:18 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Her family called her Rose or Rosie. She was the sister of assassinated president John F Kennedy. She was the third of nine children born into the family dynasty of Joseph and Rose

Kennedy, one of America’s wealthiest families. She died in 2005 with her three sisters, Eunice,

Patricia, and Jean, along with a brother, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy by her side.

In this family, all of the children were loved and encouraged never to dishonor the family’s name. They were told that the Kennedy name was important and therefore, each child was expected to be successful as adults. Rosemary, however, was special but was considered a potential embarrassment to the Kennedy clan.

She actually suffered from a developmental disorder that resulted in her being unruly and disappearing frequently from school. Rosemary had been considered particularly difficult during a period in which the father served as ambassador to England. Her not being able to negotiate the social graces, concomitant to what was expected of his position as a diplomat greatly embarrassed her father.

Here was a man who was consumed with power, raising his male children to aspire to the most powerful position in the world – the president of the United States.

It is believed by some researchers on the Kennedys, that Rosemary’s unpredictable behavior as a result of her developmental disorder, forced her father to look to an experimental medical procedure to ameliorate her condition.

He reckoned that if the public knew of Rosemary’s condition it could conceivably reduce the opportunity of his sons becoming president.

Without his wife’s permission, Joseph Kennedy had Rosemary hospitalized in 1941, allowing doctors to perform an experimental lobotomy treatment that failed and left her in a semi-zombie state for the remainder of her life.

Many tragedies happened to the family of Joseph and Rose Kennedy; two sons assassinated; one son lost in a plane crash during World War II, his 28 year old sister, lost in a plane crash during the same period; the career of another son ruined due to an extramarital affair. The legacy of tragedy, which some called the Kennedy curse, in fact, continued over the years with several of the grandchildren dying, in some cases under horrific circumstances.

After a brief respite from tragedy, death struck a horrific blow at the very soul of the Kennedy clan.

On July 16, 1999, at the age of 38, John F. Kennedy, Jr., the son of a father assassinated during his presidency, was killed, along with his wife and sister-in- law in a plane crash. During the memorial service, Ted Kennedy gave credence to the Kennedy curse when he stated “we dared to think that this John Kennedy would live to comb grey hair….but like his father, he had every gift but length of years.”

Dr. Glenn Dowell is an author and columnist who currently lives in Jonesboro, Georgia. He has been a guest speaker on major college campuses , including having appeared on TV programs such as the Oprah Winfrey Show. He may be reached at