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Penn People

Davidson Kennedy 1859 - 1942

Penn Connection

  • Member of Class of 1879 (non-graduate)
  • Member of College Boat Club and four-man crew
  • Member of Delta Psi fraternity

Davidson Kennedy was born in Philadelphia on April 22, 1859, the son of Elias D. Kennedy and Agnes Shields Clarke. His early education was at the Faires Classical Institute.

Kennedy entered the University of Pennsylvania as a partial student in 1875 and left at the end of the first term of his junior year. During his college years he was a member of Delta Psi fraternity and a member of the Penn crew that defeated Princeton to win the first Childs Cup in 1879. This race, Penn’s first intercollegiate athletic competition, is described in the section on rowing in George Orton’s History of Athletics at Pennsylvania.

Kennedy continued his interest in athletics long after his college days. He served as a director of Penn’s Athletic Association and chair of the Football Committee that brought George Woodruff to coach at Penn. He was a member of the College Boat Club, Bachelor’s Barge Club, and the Philadelphia Country Club as well as of the University Club.

Kennedy’s professional life was spent as a stockbroker in Philadelphia. His first marriage was to Nellie Benson and his second to Josephine M. Rankin. He was also an active Presbyterian, serving as an elder and senior trustee of First Presbyterian Church. Kennedy died in Philadelphia on April 4, 1942.