Airline pioneer helped Hawaii tourism soar
Stanley C. Kennedy Jr. / 1921-2007
By Mary Adamski
Stanley C. Kennedy Jr. was a leader in promoting Hawaii as a visitor destination when the industry was gaining momentum in the 1960s and '70s.
"He was one of the people who helped elevate tourism," said Peter Fithian, president of Greeters of Hawaii. As a representative of Hawaiian Airlines, Kennedy "spent a long time selling Hawaiian and Hawaii on the mainland, traveling here and there, a lot of it based on making personal relationships. There was so much that we did to promote this place, and he was right in the middle of it. It was missionary work he was doing up there," Fithian said.
Kennedy, 85, died March 28 in Longview, Texas, after a long illness. He worked in the airline industry for 38 years before his retirement in 1983 as Pacific vice president of Continental Airlines.
Kennedy served with the Navy in the Pacific during World War II, achieving the rank of lieutenant commander.
After the war he joined Hawaiian Airlines, which was founded by his father in 1929. The younger Kennedy started as a mechanic's helper to learn the business from the ground up, according to the airline's 70th-anniversary book. He worked in various positions and was vice president of sales when he left Hawaiian Airlines in 1971 to join Continental Airlines.
"He made a difference in supporting the airline industry and the tourism industry," said Ed Swafford, retired vice president of Pan American Airlines Pacific division. "He worked hard at it. We were good friends, and we became stiff competitors" when Continental Airlines entered the Hawaii market, he said.
Kennedy "volunteered for many tasks that helped the industry grow," Fithian said. He was on the board of directors of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau and the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce, and an officer of the Visitor Industry Education Council. He was one of the founders of the Pacific Aerospace Museum and a past president of Skal Club of Hawaii, a travel industry fraternal organization. He was on the boards of Air Micronesia and Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Los Angeles and Hawaii.
Kennedy was born in Honolulu and attended Punahou School before graduating from Choate School in Connecticut. He earned a bachelor's degree at Yale University.
He is survived by wife Nancy; son James Cox Kennedy of Atlanta; daughters Blair Parry-Okaden of Scone, Australia, Lani Pringle of Hillsborough, Calif., and Laura Kennedy of Boulder, Colo.; sister Patricia Scott; and seven grandchildren.
At his request, there will be no service. Burial will be in Honolulu. Memorial donations may be made to the National Hospice Foundation, Office of Resource Development, Department 6058, Washington, DC 20042.