David Kennedy, Wieden+Kennedy's co-founder, died at 82
David Kennedy, co-founder of the famed independent advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy, died on Oct. 10. He was 82.
Though he left the firm that bore his name in 1995, a project that remained important to him until his death, the business continued to pursue issues that were of importance to his. He died just hours before the launch of a major, high-profile rebranding campaign for the American Indian College Fund, which he had worked on.
Its a terrible loss for us, not only because of his commitment to the fund, but also because he convinced other people to commit, said Cheryl Crazy Bull, CEO and president of the non-profit. And, because of this, literally thousands of Native American students went to college.
Kennedy was born on May 31, 1939, in Kansas, the son and grandson of wildcat oil drillers. He grew up in the oil fields of Oklahoma, Colorado, and every other state along the eastern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. At the age of 13, he took his first job as an apprentice welder, a craft that would eventually become savored by his entire life.
He received a fine arts degree in printmaking and metal sculpture from the University of Colorado. He continued to weld sculptures and create prints at his Estacada farm until his death.
Kennedy married his wife Kathleen in 1963. They had five children.
He started in the advertising industry, working for major advertisers like Young & Rubicam and Leo Burnett. Dan Wieden joined him in Portland in 1979 and moved to Portland three years later.
The firm grew to become one of the industry's biggest businesses. It produced fantastic spots for Nike and other big-league clients.
Kennedy left the agency in 1995.
Kennedy remained low-key and fun-loving despite all his success and wealth. Rick Williams, the funds CEO before Crazy Bull, recalls him entering a fundraiser for the American Indian College Fund at prestigious New York hotel in jeans and he wore khakis with holes at the elbows. Kennedy was asked to go to work by a hotel manager who assumed him to be janitor.
Williams stated, He just laughed. "He had no ego, none at all," he added.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Kathleen, and children Cathlin, Brendan, Erinn and Siobhan. Ian, Ian's father, died earlier.
The family has requested that donations be made to the American Indian College Fund.