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Odette Kennedy, Africa University benefactor, dies

4/11/2001 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn

By United Methodist News Service

Odette Kennedy, revered African American benefactor of Africa University, died April 10 in McCloud Regional Medical Center in Florence, S.C., after an extended illness.

Kennedy, 83, along with husband Jonas, provided the first major gift of $100,000 to the United Methodist-related school in 1991. The gift from the Bennettsville, S.C., poultry farmers, helped launch a $10 million endowment fund campaign for the school in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Later the Kennedys, gave money to build the first dormitory, dedicated in December 1996. They also endowed several scholarships. In 1996, the school honored her with an honorary doctor of law degree.

"Mrs. Kennedy had a love affair for Africa and assumed the responsibility for educating many African students at Africa University and at other schools on the continent," said James Salley, a native South Carolinian who serves the university as vice chancellor for development. He said the Kennedys also provided assistance for Africans studying in the United States.

The funeral service is scheduled for April 14 at St. Michael United Methodist Church in Bennettsville.

Kennedy is survived by her husband, a daughter Deidre Kennedy, grandson Michael Alexander Kennedy-Wall of High Point, N.C., and the Rev. Robin Deese, Johns Island, S.C., who the Kennedy's reared. She also is survived by two sisters, a brother and a host of nieces and nephews.

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