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Fred C. Kennedy

Frederic Clarence Kennedy was born in South Saint Paul, Minnesota on February 20, 1908, the son of Scottish-Irish immigrants Harriet "Hattie" Lieneau and William Kennedy, a restauranteur and hardware salesman. He began collecting minerals and rocks as a young boy, keeping his collection in a cigar box. After graduating from high school he attended night classes at the University of Minnesota, then worked as a chemist in the early 1930's. He acquired an increasing interest in chemical compounds and minerals, which grew into an interest in geology and crystallography. In the 1940's he accepted a job offer that took him to Rochester, Minnesota, where he remained for the rest of his life. He was named General Manager of the Waters Conley Company in 1948, and in 1954 he acquired the phonograph and home pasturizer divisions of the firm; the business prospered under his management, producing up to 4,500 phonographs a day.

Glen Waters, founder of the Waters Conley Company, was himself a mineral collector, and founded a rock and mineral club in Rochester in the early 1940's. Kennedy joined, and was fascinated by the display of minerals in Waters' office. That proved to be the inspiration that converted Kennedy into a serious collector. He specialized at first in minerals from Minnesota and the Michigan Copper Country, acquired at shows, by mail order and by field collecting. Over the years he became increasingly devoted to species collecting and gradually sold off many of his fine display-quality specimens in the process. He donated the famous rose quartz specimen known as "The Van Allen Belt" to the Smithsonian Institution. Duncan Stewart, chairman of the Geology Department of Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota, regularly visited Rochester in the 1950's and taught courses in mineralogy and geology to interested locals; Fred attended faithfully and developed a cordial relationship with Stewart.

Kennedy retired in 1965 and spent most of his time thereafter building his species collection. He owned a building of around 1,400 square feet on 5th Street NW; it had originally been the headquarters of Kennedy Sales and Engineering, a chemical firm he operated on the side. After retirement he devoted the space solely to his collection cabinets and display cases, though in the end his species collection (mostly specimens under 2 inches in size) required far less room.

Fred stopped going to shows in 1985 when his wife, Beatrice, could no longer travel; they had married in 1935 and have one son, William C. Kennedy, a professor of Art at the University of Tennessee. In 1993 Fred donated his collection of 3,593 specimens to Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota. It contained specimens of 96% of all known mineral species, an achievement unequalled by the Smithsonian Institution or the Harvard Mineralogical Mueum. As an inveterate collector, he continued to purchase rare species thereafter and passed them on to the college during the final two years of his life. Fred Kennedy died October 11, 1995 in Rochester, Minnesota.

CAPELLE, A. (1993) Mineral collector gives themn a piece of his mined. Rochester Post-Bulletin.
Minnesota Death Index.
US Federal Census, 1910, 1920, 1930.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
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