Lillian Kennedy, 84, dedicated Baptist church worker

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Lillian Kennedy, 84, of South Philadelphia, a longtime worker for the New Light Beulah Baptist Church, died Tuesday, Aug. 22, of pancreatic cancer at home.

Camera icon Courtesy of the family

Lillian Kennedy

During 50 years of membership, Mrs. Kennedy served many different auxiliaries within the New Light Beulah church, formerly at 1701 Bainbridge St. That building has been razed, and the congregation is moving to 1623 Cayuga St. in Nicetown.

“Sister Kennedy,” as Mrs. Kennedy was called by the pastor and parishioners, was president of the church’s Missionary Board for many years. In that role, she was just as likely to provide help remotely to a needy child in South Africa as to aid a neighborhood child on the 1900 block of McClellan Street, where she lived.

“She was a mother to the whole block, just about,” said her daughter Margaret Brown. “Everyone came to our house for everything.”

In May 2015, the Missionary Board honored Mrs. Kennedy with its Windows of Hope International Children’s Ministry award. “She was happy. That was a beautiful day,” her daughter said.

Mrs. Kennedy continued to be a dedicated servant to New Light Beulah Baptist until her health began to decline in the last few months.

She refused radiation or chemotherapy treatments for her cancer, and died before its effects became too onerous. “She lived a wonderful life, and she did it her way,” her daughter said.

Born in Philadelphia to Joseph and Margaret Sharper, she was the seventh of 10 children. Her childhood nickname was “Nit.”

She attended Philadelphia public schools and as a teenager married Manson Bradley Hamilton, now deceased. The couple resided in Philadelphia.

In December 1992, she married Harold James Kennedy. He died in 1998.

Starting in the late 1950s, Mrs. Kennedy worked at BB’s Lawnside BBQ, formerly at 1627 South St., her family said. In 1988, she was hired by Drexel University in the housekeeping department, and worked there until retiring in 1998.

In retirement, she enjoyed helping others, spending time with family, and excursions to Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

“We were in Atlantic City for Mother’s Day,” her daughter said. “I have nothing but good memories.”

Mrs. Kennedy had five children. Two sons, Bradley and Ernest Hamilton, died earlier.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Kennedy is survived by children Roger Hamilton and Sheila Milbourne; two sisters; a brother; and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.

A viewing starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, will be followed by an 11 a.m. funeral service at Temple of Prayer, 5516 Chestnut St. Interment is in Fernwood Cemetery, Lansdowne.

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