In the world of conservative-minded philanthropy, David Boyd Kennedy, who passed away on Sunday, March 10, 2019, was a discreet, wise and insightful benefactor, deeply committed to the permanent things.
David died peacefully at his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his family at his side. Known best to readers of The European Conservative as president of the Earhart Foundation, he is survived by his wife Sally (Pyne), daughter Jane Mack (Brian), and son Douglas Kennedy (Stephanie).
David was born on September 2, 1933, to James Alexander and Elizabeth (Earhart) Kennedy. He attended McGill University and the University of Michigan and received an A.B. from Indiana University in 1958, with a major in Economics and minor in Russian. Between his junior and senior years of undergraduate study, David served in the United States Army, attending its Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, followed by service at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. He received an LL.B. at the University of Michigan in 1963 and furthered his foreign language studies in Germany, then in the then-Soviet Union, and later at Yale University.
For 21 years before returning to Ann Arbor in 1984, where he assumed leadership of the foundation established by his grandfather, Harry Boyd Earhart, David served as a practicing attorney and as a public servant in the state of Wyoming. He was a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives and then Attorney General for the State. He was a member of the Republican National Committee, serving both as Chairman and later as National Committeeman. David retired as President of Earhart Foundation in 2003.
Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, David’s philanthropic vision was animated by close adherence to advancing understanding of the Western tradition that fueled the American Founding and that sustains constitutional societies worldwide. His characteristically understated manner belied a prudent and keen intelligence that was complemented by his belief in the dignity of mankind, the opportunities of free enterprise, and the necessity of limited government.
He greatly valued and promoted open and respectful exchange of ideas across the full spectrum of classical liberalism and conservatism. He followed with special attention the transatlantic political and cultural relationships that are central to Europe’s and Anglo-America’s intellectual landscape and shared heritage.
In exercising philanthropy, David believed a major responsibility was to protect donor intent. He subsequently worked tirelessly to advance his grandfather’s philanthropic vision. In so doing, he and the Earhart Foundation’s trustees and members gave opportunity to thousands of grantees across continents, whose lives and careers David hoped would prosper.
Outside formal philanthropy, David’s many other activities included serving as the long-time Chairman of the Institute for Justice in Washington, D.C. He was also an active member of the Mont Pelerin Society, the Philadelphia Society, and the Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
David and Sally were inveterate and intrepid travelers, whose journeys over the decades took them from the icy wilds of Antarctica across Asia, Europe, South America, Australia, and Africa.
In addition to being survived by his wife and children, David is survived by his sister Ann Irish (David) of Harbor Springs, Michigan; brother, James Kennedy (Patricia), Ann Arbor, Michigan; three grandchildren; and numerous cousins, nephews, and nieces.