Fair board member and father figure farmer dies
Butler has lost a generous spirit who shared his knowledge and energy with the community to the end.
Harold Kennedy of Valencia died from a stroke at the age of 85 on Friday morning.
Kennedy left his mark as a leader on the Big Butler Fair and the Adams Township Water Authority boards of directors, as an Adams Township supervisor, as a deputy for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and as treasurer of the Breakneck Creek Regional Authority. But he made an impression on everyone he met, too.
“He was the Butler Fair queen coordinator for the last 18 years,” said Judy Kennedy, Harold’s wife of 24 years, who added he had also directed the fair.
“He supported these young ladies and was very proud, like a proud grandpa, whenever they succeeded and finished college,” she said. “One is a doctor now, and a lot of the other girls have found careers.”
Everyone knew how supportive Harold was of children when it came to supporting animals and working with agriculture, Judy Kennedy said. Over time, this kindness expanded to his grandchildren, then his great-grandchildren.
But then he would also support whole communities of children in between his descendants, she said.
Judy cited Harold’s work with organizations such as Future Farmers of America and 4-H Youth, which stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health. Both these organizations encourage youth engagement in agriculture.
Children involved in these organizations would ask Harold to write letters in support of them, and he did, Judy said.
Harold also taught hunter safety courses when serving with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Judy said.
“He loved nurturing and teaching and passing on the wisdom of conservation to kids,” she said.
Harold was always upbeat, willing to lend a hand and energetic, said Harold Dunn, who serves as secretary on the Big Butler Fair board.
Kennedy had served before as president on the fair’s board.
“(If) there was something that needed to be worked on, he was there to help out at all times,” said Dunn. “He’d always go out of his way to tour people around the fairgrounds, to walk people through the barns and explain to them what agriculture was all about.”
“And he was just always there,” Dunn said. “He was always there for the fair, and he was always there for people in our community.”
Kennedy also played an active role in the Butler Farm Show livestock sale, in which young farmers participated.
“He was always very adamant about helping the kids out, helping those programs out,” Dunn said.
“He will be sorely missed,” Dunn added. “He was just at a fair board meeting a couple of weeks ago, and we were planning for the 2023 fair, and as always, he was right in the middle of it.”
Adams Township Manager Gary Peaco first grew to know Kennedy when working on the Adams water authority board with him.
“Harold was a very knowledgeable man,” Peaco said. “He was very committed to the community and doing the right thing by residents in the community.”
Regarding his work for Adams Township, Judy Kennedy said, “He was on the phone to somebody or other, discussing that, and he was passionate about that. He wanted to make the community better.”
Peaco said he remembered Kennedy more as a father figure than as a friend, because of the age difference and because he had attended school with Kennedy’s children.
In addition to his wife, Harold Kennedy is survived by his daughters, Diane Edwards and Holly McKenna; his son, Dale Kennedy; his stepson, Matt Cranmer; his stepdaughter, Marcy Cranmer; his sister, Nancy Govan; and his brothers, James L. Kennedy and H. Phillip Kennedy Sr. He also is survived by many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Harold Kennedy is preceded in death by his son, H. Robert Kennedy, and his stepson, Marshall Adam Cranmer.
Arrangements include visitations from noon to 4 p.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at McDonald-Aeberli Funeral Home. A memorial service will follow at 8 p.m. at Mars United Presbyterian Church, 232 Crowe Ave., Mars.