Dorothy Muriel Kennedy was the daughter of Thomas Aloysius and Genevieve (nee Callahan) Kennedy. Thomas is also known as Tom Kennedy, film star and comedian whose acting career began in the silent films produced by Mack Sennett.
After 1910, Dorothy and her brother Thomas, Jr. went to live with her grandparents, Terence and Emma (nee Clark) Callahan in their home at East 17th Street in New York City. She attended Catholic Elementary School in the neighborhood. She was a very bright student and quickly advanced through the required courses of study.
This photo was taken in 1927 on the day after Dorothy swam from Coney Island to Rockaway Beach and back. Dorothy is on the right. With her is an unidentified friend.
In addition to excelling at her schoolwork, Dorothy was an excellent swimmer. Her daughter Karen says she was as graceful as a swan when she entered the water. There is a photo of Dorothy at Coney Island in 1927 taken the day after a major achievement she made the night before: she swam from Coney Island to Rockaway Beach and back. Her passion for swimming was passed on to her children and grandchildren.
Irving with daughters Joan and Marilyn.
In 1930, Dorothy, her mother Genevieve, and her brother Thomas, Jr. were living in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. On August 12, 1930 Dorothy married Isidor Flashenberg(1) at the Municipal Building, Brooklyn, New York. The ceremony was performed by Thomas Cleary. Charles Salg was the witness.
Dorothy with her daughters Joan and Marilyn. Early-Mid 1930s.
Dorothy and Irving lived in Brooklyn near Coney Island. From this marriage were born: Marilyn (circa 1931), Joan (circa 1932); Jack Donald (1935) and Karen (1941).
Telegram dated March 16, 1940 from Buster to his sister Dorothy congratulating her on the opening of her hat shop.
Dorothy opened her own business in 1940. It was called Dorothy’s Hat Shop and was located at 2816 Surf Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y. Upon the opening of her business her brother Thomas Kennedy, Jr. sent a telegram of congratulations which the family still has today. It was an exciting time for Dorothy and a challenge she was up to. She was a good businesswoman and mother throughout it all. Dorothy’s grandson John Milone remembers her as someone who was strengthened by all she experienced and had a broad insight into what people needed to get them back on track when they were going through a difficult time.
Gerry and Dorothy Ricciardi. Late 1950s-Early 1960s.
Dorothy and Irving divorced. In the mid-1950s she met and married Jerry Ricciardi. Jerry became a beloved step-father to Dorothy’s children.
Dorothy and Jerry had a home in upstate New York, about 40 miles west of Albany in Schoharie County near the Howe Caverns. It is in a very secluded location with over 15 acres of countryside and woodland. Dorothy and Jerry opened up their home to their children and grandchildren giving them all many happy summers to remember.
Family and friends affectionately called Dorothy “Gram”. She had a special, intuitive approach in all her interactions and dealings with children, teens and young adults. Dorothy reached out to friends and relatives who had a child going through some difficulties. She and Jerry would have them visit their country home for a summer and often successfully effected a change of heart and attitude in the young person under their care. She became Gram to a wide circle of young children and adults who would keep in touch with her as they grew older.
Dorothy was cared for at home by her daughter Karen Kennedy when she became too frail to keep up the home upstate. She returned to Brooklyn to live with Karen and passed peacefully in her sleep leaving a legacy as an example of strength, love and positivity to her grandchildren and family.
Karen Kennedy summed up Dorothy’s life in this way: “Everything she did was from the heart. She lived her life that way.”
These memories and family stories were shared with me on Good Friday, April 18, 2014 during a reunion with Dorothy’s grandson John Milone and her daughter, Karen Kennedy.
(1) Sometime after 1930 Isidor changed his first name to Irving. This is the name that appears on his son Jack’s birth certificate. In the 1940s the family had their surname changed to Kennedy. This step was taken due to his desire that his children not experience the Anti-Semitism he had experienced and which prevented him from getting suitable employment.
1900 Federal Census entry for the family of Fredrick Kennedy, father of Thomas A. Kennedy
1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940 Federal Census.
1915 New York State Census.
Birth Certificate for Isidore Flashenberg dated March 15, 1909. Certificate no. 14738, New York City Municipal Archives.
Marriage Certificate No. 10004 for the marriage of Thomas A. Kennedy to Genevieve D. Callahan, dated May 16, 1903. New York City Municipal Archives.
Certificate and Record of Birth no. 32744 for Dorothy Kennedy, dated July 10, 1909. New York City Municipal Archives.
Marriage Certificate no. 11085 for Isidor Flashenberg and Dorothy Kennedy dated August 12, 1930. New York City Municipal Archives.