Obituary of Robert Kennedy (1923 – 2021) – Sanger, CA
November 22, 1923 – October 13, 2021
Sanger, California – Robert William Kennedy, Sanger’s longtime jeweler and businessman, passed away peacefully on October 13, 2021. He was 97 years old.
He was born on November 22, 1923 to Ivan Delos and Catherine Adams Kennedy at their DeWolf Avenue ranch in Del Rey. Robert grew up with his older sister Evelyn on the ranch where his father cultivated vines. Robert learned to work hard early on by helping his father make luggage boxes, platters of raisins, drive mules and tractors, and kill rabbits and ground squirrels that harmed vines and irrigation ditches. .
He attended DeWolf School High School where his mother was his teacher for the first four years. He graduated from Sanger High School in 1941.
Deciding that farming was not for him, Robert was drawn to the booming aviation field. In September 1941, he began to learn instrument repair at the American School of Aircraft Instruments in Glendale. After the start of World War II, aircraft instrument repair became a vital wartime industry. Robert graduated in June 1942. At the age of 19 he went to Bedford, Ohio, where he worked as a supervisor for Jack & Heintz Co. and made complex gyro instruments for bomber autopilots. .
After the war and his work ended, Robert decided to become a jeweler. He studied at the Bradley School of Engraving and the Bradley School for Jewelers and apprenticed at a jeweler in Peoria, Illinois. In the spring of 1946 he founded Kenmor Jewelers in Sanger with his brother-in-law and partner Don Morrison.
During this time Robert was drafted into the Army in May 1946. He served as a radio repairman at Fort Bliss, Texas and repaired large model airplanes used as targets for gunners-in-training. He was demobilized at the beginning of March 1947 during the demobilization of the army.
In 1950 Robert married Oleta Brown and they spent 25 years together until her death in 1975. In 1977 Robert married Norma Kingen and they spent 41 years together until her death in 2018.
At Kenmor Jewelers, Robert has repaired jewelry, watches and clocks for countless customers over the years. He was known for his hard work and kind attention to customers. In 1974, he welcomed and trained his son-in-law Jerry Kemp in the trade.
After 51 years in business, Kenmor Jewelers in Sanger closed in 1997. Jerry Kemp is named Kenmor Jewelers in the Fresno store he opened in 2003. Robert has continued to do repair work for Jerry and away from home until the age of 95.
In 2019, he was honored by Sanger Masonic Lodge # 316 for 75 years of membership.
He is survived by four children, Susan Kemp (Jerry) of Fresno, Cathy Baker (Bob) of Oklahoma, Christi Weybret (Marty) of Lodi and Dale Kingen (Joseph Boado) of Fresno; eight grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
Visitations will be held on Wednesday, October 20 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Wallin’s Sanger Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, October 21 at 2 p.m. at Sanger Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to remember Robert can donate to the charity of their choice.
Posted by Fresno Bee on Oct 17, 2021.