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Who Is Wiley Kennedy?



A giant in the community, a man of great faith, an advocate for social justice as well as a loving husband, father, uncle, brother, and grandfather. Mr. Wiley Kennedy had been a force in the 29203 area for over half a century.

Wiley Kennedy was born August 27th, 1920, to Ella Burrell Kennedy and Wright Kennedy of Fairfield County. As a young child, the need to help support his family only enabled him to obtain a six-grade education.  Thus, he was a self-educated man who relied heavily on the Bible to guide his education and life lessons. 

After years on the family farm, Mr. Kennedy served three years in the U S Army, worked as a welder, drove an 18-wheeler and became a licensed barber.

Soon after his marriage to Dorothy Gadsden in 1942, they joined the Bethlehem Baptist Church. Wiley and Dorothy were married for 56 years and had five children: Nezzie, Elease, Gloria, Melvin, and Ralph.

His strong faith and compassion for people gave him an unusual ability to engage everyone, from the most educated to even that of young children.  His ability to problem solve as well as to gain consensus from opposing sides made him an effective leader.

During his years at Bethlehem Baptist Church College Place, he was a dedicated Sunday school teacher, a member of the Jubilee choir and an ordained deacon. Soon after, he became the Chair of the Deacon Board serving faithfully for over 40 years until his death.

Wiley Kennedy will always be remembered for this love of community, church and children in the 29203 neighborhood. The Wiley Kennedy Foundation, Inc. embodies his drive, innovation and spirit to “Build Capacity to Build Community”.

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