Patrick W. Kennedy

JUNE 27, 1956 – APRIL 12, 2020 Portrait of Patrick W. Kennedy

Patrick William Kennedy, 63, husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, beloved friend, and avid race fan passed away Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, after a courageous battle with COVID-19.

Pat was born on June 27, 1956, to the late William E. Kennedy, Jr., and Frances L. Kennedy. A lifelong Indianapolis resident, Pat graduated from Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School , Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, and the University of Notre Dame, Class of 1978.

Pat was the 4th-generation president of the three Kennedy family companies: Kennedy Tank & Manufacturing in Indianapolis; Southern Tank in Owensboro, Kentucky; and STAFCO in Columbia City, Indiana. At Kennedy Tank he worked alongside his three sons, Bill, Jimmy, and Patrick; his brother-in-law Paul Bolin; and his nephew Kevin Bolin. Under Pat’s leadership, the companies grew dramatically and became nationally recognized in quality fabrication of steel tanks, pressure vessels, and heat exchangers. Pat was a long-time board member of the Steel Tank Institute, the Steel Tank Insurance Company, and Business Owners International Manufacturing Alliance. Pat also was heavily involved in the Young Presidents Organization and The American Business Club.

Outside of managing the family’s businesses, auto racing was Pat’s greatest passion. He attended 57 consecutive Indianapolis 500 Mile races and all other motor-sport events held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) since his childhood. Pat purchased and refurbished a vintage IndyCar, the Kennedy Tank Special, that originally competed in the 1948 and 1949 Indianapolis 500s. In driving the car on “Carb Day” at IMS numerous years, Pat lived out his lifelong dream of being a race car driver. Pat served on the board of the 500 Mile Oldtimers Organization, sponsored race car drivers, and wrote two books on race trivia, collaborating with IMS historian and friend Donald Davidson as a technical advisor. The two books he authored, How Much Do You Really Know About the Indianapolis 500? and The Official Indy 500 Trivia Book were updated yearly with Short Chute Editions. His books were the result of a lifetime of immersive research and experience at the track. Pat was a former director of the 500 Festival Board and current director of the 500 Festival Foundation Board. The leaders of the IMS have voiced or written numerous notes and prayers to the family about Pat’s passionate involvement. Anyone who spent a day at the track with Pat Kennedy came away with a richer feel for the man and his beloved Speedway.

There was nothing that would keep Pat from fall football weekends and stadium tailgates in South Bend. This year, as every year, was going to be “Notre Dame’s year,” according to Pat. He was named the Indianapolis Notre Dame Club’s “Man of the Year” in 2017, an honor previously bestowed upon his father. A devoted sportsman, Pat was a talented basketball player at the Indianapolis Athletic Club, where he showed his prowess and passion for competition. He was a life-long runner, participating in twenty-five 500 Festival Mini Marathons. His family spent summers at Lake Wawasee, and Pat continued that tradition with his own family, spending every August at the lake.

Pat was a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church where he earned the rank of Eagle Scout in Troop 174, Highland Golf & Country Club, the White River Yacht Club, The Hundred Club, and the Notre Dame Club of Indianapolis. He supported numerous organizations, including Wheeler Mission, CYO, United Way, Friends of Holliday Park, Little Sisters of the Poor, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation, and many schools and parishes in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Pat was a passionate sports fan, rarely missing a game played by those in his family, but his interest extended to any great competitive event. Pat was a devoted supporter and longtime season ticket holder of the Indiana Pacers and the Indianapolis Colts.

Pat was preceded in death by his beloved parents. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Cheryl Kennedy; children Maura (Chris Page), Bill (Ellen), Jimmy (Anna Grace Sterry), Patrick, and Joey Gaines; grandchildren Kate, Grace, Luke, and Bo; sisters Peggy Shorter (Mark), Kathy Fairchild (Thom), and Ann Bolin (Paul); and nieces and nephews Kelly Schneider (Matt), Mickey Shorter (Ashley); Kimmie Rumer (Justin) and Kyle Fairchild; and Courtney, Kevin, and Brian Bolin.

Because of the uncertainty of the virus, a Mass and celebration of life will be delayed until time allows. A private family viewing and burial will occur in the coming few weeks. Please remember Pat as you celebrate Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, a Wawasee summer, Notre Dame football, and the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The Kennedy family would like to thank the incredibly passionate nursing, physician, and respiratory therapy staffs at the St. Vincent Carmel and 86th Street campuses. We also send a special thank you to family friends Dr. Michael Bojrab, our daily medical counsel during Pat’s hospitalization; and Dr. John Ramsey, who served as the family voice to Pat, as well as liaison and spokesperson with his caregivers. We are forever grateful.

For those who wish, memorial contributions can be made to Wheeler Mission (c/o W.M. Administrative Offices, 205 East New York Street, Indianapolis 46204) and Little Sisters of the Poor (2345 West 86th Street, Indianapolis 46260).

Leppert Mortuary, Nora Chapel assisting with arrangements. You are invited to visit the website where you may share a personal memory of Pat.

Here’s an article on about Pat Kennedy’s passion for racing and the Indy 500.