An Evening with the Author
The storied Kennedy clan has a legacy as one of the most influential American families in this country’s history. Besides giving birth to one of our nation’s most beloved and tragic presidents, the Kennedy family has held a near constant presence in congress since 1947. Their reach and influence in American politics go without saying, and they’ve championed numerous causes during their tenure. One such cause is their crusade to advance the plight of the developmentally disabled.
To discover the origin of the passion the Kennedy family, namely President John F. Kennedy, and his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, had for the cause of developmentally disabled children, one only has rifle through the annals of Kennedy family history and uncover the “missing” Kennedy, Rosie.
Rosemary Kennedy was the first daughter of the wealthy Bostonian couple who would go on to become the matriarch and patriarch of what we now know as the Kennedy family. Born with developmental disabilities, Rosie was one of the first individuals to undergo a controversial procedure known as a lobotomy, a neurosurgical procedure that involves severing connections to the brain’s prefrontal lobe. The procedure left her with severe mental and physical impairment and required that she have personal one on one care for the rest of her life.
It was through her caregiver, Sister Paulus Koehler, that Elizabeth Koehler initially met Rosie. Elizabeth was the only child of a Wisconsin farming family and Sister Paulus’ niece. Though Rosie, then forty-four years old, was kept largely isolated, she and Elizabeth formed a bond that lasted years and would provide the foundation for Elizabeth’s New York Times bestselling memoir, “The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women.”
The Missing Kennedy is a story gleaned from Sister Paulus’ private notes, as well as independent research and interviews, that chronicles Rosie’s life along with that of the author’s aunt, and delves into the similarities between the two families. The book also highlights how Rosie’s life became the fodder for the Kennedy’s crusade against developmental disabilities, a crusade that continues to this day.
An evening with the author, Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff, will be held on the Pleasant Hill campus of JFK University Wednesday April 19, 2017, at 6:30 pm.