3. Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, Matriarch of the Kennedy Family

Did you notice the roses growing in abundance on Cape Cod? Many people associate the roses here with Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, the matriarch of the Kennedy family and mother of our 35th President, John F. Kennedy. Hyannis Port was the year-round home of Rose Kennedy until her death in 1995 at age 104. A strict Catholic, she attended daily mass at St. Francis Xavier Parish on nearby South Street.

Rose Kennedy and Her Children

Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald was born in 1890. She learned her political campaigning skills as the daughter of John 'Honey Fitz' Fitzgerald, a politician who served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1895-1901 and 1919) and as mayor of Boston (1906-1908, and 1910-1914). She married Joseph P. Kennedy in 1914, and they began their married life in Brookline, Massachusetts. As Rose and Joe's family grew, they sought a summer getaway from the city, which eventually led them to Hyannis Port. As Joe's career and their family grew, Rose managed family life (tracking her nine children's health on index cards) while Joe was appointed by President Roosevelt to chair the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (1934-1935), and the U.S. Maritime Commission (1937-1938). In 1938, Joe was appointed ambassador to the United Kingdom. Rose and the family joined him in London, It was the time there that put their image on a world stage, one of a competitive clan on a mythic path to power.

Their children were:

Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., born in 1915, was a Navy pilot, killed in action in World War II in 1944.

John F. Kennedy, born in 1917, was awarded the Purple Heart for his Naval service, and elected the 35th President of the United States. He was assassinated in 1963.

Rose Marie (Rosemary) Kennedy, born in 1918, had disabilities from birth, but lived a long life and died in 2005.

Kathleen A. Kennedy, born in 1920, married William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington in England in 1944. "Kick" served in the Red Cross during World War II, and her husband was killed in action in 1944. She was killed in a plane crash in France in 1948.

Eunice A. Kennedy, born in 1921, married Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps. She founded the Special Olympics in 1968, and died in Hyannis Port in 2009.

Patricia H. Kennedy, born in 1924, became an actress and married actor Peter Lawford. She was politically active during many of her brothers' campaigns and founded the National Committee for the Literary Arts. She died in New York in 2006.

Robert F. Kennedy, born in 1925, served his brother as US Attorney General, and then was elected U.S. Senator from New York. He was assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968, during his own presidential campaign.

Jean A. Kennedy, born in 1928, married Stephen Smith. She served as the 25th U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. The last surviving sibling, she died in 2020.

Edward M. Kennedy, born in 1932, he served 47 years as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and was deemed by many as "The Lion of the Senate" for his ability to cross party lines to get legislation passed. He died in Hyannis Port in 2009.

"I have always enjoyed living and working, and I believe I have had a great life, I consider myself very lucky. I had a wonderful youth; my father gave me the stimulation of travel [and] zest - curiosity and interest and enthusiasm for life. My mother bestowed on me Faith and common sense. I fell in love young and married the man I loved and lived a full life with him - from finance to the movies to politics to diplomacy. I have been ideally happy with my children.