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David Kennedy, co-founder of Wieden + Kennedy, dies at 82




David Kennedy, co-founder of the famous independent advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy, died on October 10. He was 82 years old.

Although he left the firm that bore his name in 1995, he continued to work on causes close to his heart until his death. He passed away just hours before the launch of a major high-stakes advertising campaign that he had helped develop for the American Indian College Fund.

It’s a huge loss for us, not only because of his commitment to the fund, but also because he convinced others to get involved, said Cheryl Crazy Bull, CEO and President of the association. As a result, thousands of Native American children were able to attend university.

Kennedy was born May 31, 1939 in Kansas, the son and grandson of wild oil drillers. He grew up in the oil fields of Oklahoma, Colorado and every other state along the eastern border range of the Rocky Mountains. At 13, his first job was that of an apprentice welder, a job that would become a lifelong passion.

He received a Fine Arts degree in engraving and metal sculpture from the University of Colorado. He continued to weld sculptures and make prints at his Estacada farmhouse until his death.

Kennedy married his wife Kathleen in 1963. They had five children.

He got into advertising, working for big agencies like Young & Rubicam and Leo Burnett. He moved to Portland in 1979 and partnered with Dan Wieden three years later.

The agency has grown to be one of the industry giants. He produced brilliant spots for Nike and other big league clients.

Kennedy left the agency in 1995.

Despite all his success and wealth, Kennedy has remained low-key and playful. He walked into a fundraiser for the American Indian College Fund at a posh New York City hotel wearing jeans and a Levis jacket with elbow holes, recalls Rick Williams, the fund’s CEO before Crazy Bull. A hotel manager assumed Kennedy was a janitor and told him to get down to business.

He just laughed, Williams said. He had no ego, absolutely none. “

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Kathleen, and children Cathlin, Brendan, Erinn and Siobhan. Her son Ian died earlier.

The family asked for donations to be made to the American Indian College Fund.




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