Underway: Funeral Services Underway For Legendary Senator Ted Kennedy

Posted by Web Staff - Email | Facebook | Twitter

BOSTON, MA (WOIO/CNN) -- Funeral services are underway for the last Kennedy brother, Edward "Ted" Kennedy.

Kennedy died Tuesday, August 25th at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts from brain cancer at the age of 77.

Funeral Services:

August 28th, 2009

Senator Edward Kennedy will lie in repose at the John F. Kennedy Library.

Public visiting hours will be from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and at 7 p.m., there will be a private memorial service.

August 29th, 2009

Kennedy's funeral Mass will take place at Out Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston, Massachusetts. The service is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and is closed to the public.

All four living presidents - George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are expected to join President Barack Obama at the Boston funeral.

Later Saturday, at 5 p.m., Kennedy will be buried at a private service at Arlington National Cememtery.

Kennedy, nicknamed "Ted," was the younger brother of slain President John F. Kennedy and New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, who was gunned down while seeking the White House in 1968. But his own presidential aspirations were hobbled by the controversy around a 1969 auto accident that left a young woman dead, and a 1980 primary challenge to then-President Jimmy Carter that ended in defeat.

But while the White House eluded his grasp, the longtime Massachusetts senator was considered one of the most effective legislators of the past few decades. Kennedy, who became known as the "lion of the Senate," played major roles in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, and was an outspoken liberal standard-bearer during a conservative-dominated era from the 1980s to the early 2000s.

"Senator Ted Kennedy's legacy in the United States Senate is comparable and consistent with the legacy of his entire family for generations," Kennedy's biographer, Ted Sorensen, said.

Kennedy suffered a seizure in May 2008 at his home on Cape Cod. Shortly after, doctors diagnosed a brain tumor -- a malignant glioma in his left parietal lobe.

Surgeons at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, removed as much of the tumor as possible the following month. Doctors considered the procedure a success, and Kennedy underwent follow-up radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

A few weeks later, he participated in a key vote in the Senate. And he insisted on making a brief but dramatic appearance at the 2008 Democratic convention, a poignant moment that brought the crowd to its feet and tears to many eyes.

"I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States," Kennedy told fellow Democrats in a strong voice.

Kennedy's early support for Obama was considered a boon for the candidate, then a first-term senator from Illinois locked in a tough primary battle against former first lady Hillary Clinton. Kennedy predicted Obama's victory and pledged to be in Washington in January when Obama assumed office -- and he was, though he was hospitalized briefly after suffering a seizure during a post-inaugural luncheon.

Kennedy was one of only six senators in U.S. history to serve more than 40 years. He was elected to eight full terms to become the second most-senior senator, after West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd.

He launched his political career in 1962, when he was elected to finish the unexpired Senate term of his brother, who became president in 1960. He won his first full term in 1964.

He seemed to have a bright political future, and many Democratic eyes turned to him after the killings of his brothers. But a July 18, 1969, car wreck on Chappaquiddick Island virtually ended his ambitions.

After a party for women who had worked on his brother Robert's presidential campaign, Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick, off Cape Cod and across a narrow channel from Martha's Vineyard. While Kennedy managed to escape, his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned.

In a coroner's inquest, he denied having been drunk, and said he made "seven or eight" attempts to save Kopechne before exhaustion forced him to shore. And though he sought help from friends at the party, Kennedy did not report the accident to police until the following morning.

Kennedy eventually pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. In a televised address to residents of his home state, Kennedy called his conduct in the hours following the accident "inexplicable" and called his failure to report the wreck immediately "indefensible."

Despite the dent in his reputation and career, Kennedy remained in American politics and went on to win seven more terms in the Senate. Kennedy championed social causes and was the author of "In Critical Condition: The Crisis in America's Health Care." He served as chairman of the Judiciary and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committees and was the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary and Armed Services committees during periods when Republicans controlled the chamber.

Obama named Kennedy as one of 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. A White House statement explained that the 2009 honorees "were chosen for their work as agents of change."

"Senator Kennedy has dedicated his career to fighting for equal opportunity, fairness and justice for all Americans. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that every American has access to quality and affordable health care, and has succeeded in doing so for countless children, seniors, and Americans with disabilities. He has called health care reform the "cause of his life."

Born in Boston on February 22, 1932, Edward Moore Kennedy was the last of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, a prominent businessman and Democrat, and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. Joseph Kennedy served as ambassador to Britain before World War II and pushed his sons to strive for the presidency, a burden "Teddy" bore for much of his life as the only surviving Kennedy son.

His oldest brother, Joe Jr., died in a plane crash during World War II when Kennedy was 12. John was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, in 1963, and Robert was killed the night of the California primary in 1968.

Ted Kennedy delivered Robert's eulogy, urging mourners to remember him as "a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it; who saw suffering and tried to heal it; who saw war and tried to stop it."

The family was plagued with other tragedies as well. One sister, Kathleen, was killed in a plane crash in 1948. Another sister, Rosemary, was born mildly retarded, but was institutionalized after a botched lobotomy in 1941. She died in 1986 after more than 50 years in mental hospitals.

Joseph Kennedy was incapacitated by a stroke in 1961 and died in November 1969, leaving the youngest son as head of the family. He was 37.

"I can't let go," Kennedy once told an aide. "If I let go, Ethel (Robert's widow) will let go, and my mother will let go, and all my sisters."

Kennedy himself survived a 1964 plane crash that killed an aide, suffering a broken back in the accident. But he recovered to lead the seemingly ill-starred clan through a series of other tragedies: Robert Kennedy's son David died of a drug overdose in a Florida hotel in 1984; another of Robert's sons, Michael, was killed in a skiing accident in Colorado in 1997; and John's son John Jr., his wife Carolyn and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette died in a 1999 plane crash off Martha's Vineyard.

In addition, his son Edward Jr. lost a leg to cancer in the 1970s, and daughter Kara survived a bout with the disease in the early 2000s.

Kennedy was forced to testify about a bar-hopping weekend that led to sexual battery charges against his nephew, William Kennedy Smith. Smith was acquitted in 1991 of charges that he raped a woman he met while at a Florida nightclub with the senator and his son Patrick, now a Rhode Island congressman.

Like brothers John and Robert, Edward Kennedy attended Harvard. He studied in the Netherlands before earning a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School, and worked in the district attorney's office in Boston before entering politics.

Kennedy is survived by his second wife, Victoria Ann Reggie Kennedy, whom he married in 1992; his first wife, Joan Bennett; and five children -- Patrick, Kara and Edward Jr. from his first marriage, and Curran and Caroline Raclin from his second.

Reactions to Edward Kennedy's death

Statement from President Obama

"Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague.  I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency.  And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family."

Sen. Voinovich Statement

WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) released the following statement on the passing of U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA):

"Our great nation has lost a true statesman, and the Kennedy family has lost its beloved patriarch. Senator Kennedy's unparalleled leadership and decades spent in service to his fellow Americans will be missed by all, especially here in the United States Senate. While not always in agreement with him, no one can deny that Ted was a man of convictions, passion and resolve for doing what he felt was best for the country.

"His willingness to reach across the aisle and find common ground serves as an inspiration to all of us during this pivotal moment in our nation's history. Senator Kennedy and I shared a passion for early childhood development and together with Senator Gregg we worked on legislation to improve the quality and availability of early education for all children.

"On a more personal note, Ted was a guiding light for me during my late-nephew's treatment for bone cancer. His uplifting spirit and thoughtfulness helped steer my family through a very difficult time, and I will never forget the words he shared with us: 'Even when it's sometimes stormy one day, the sun always seems to shine the next.'

"Janet and I will keep Victoria and the entire Kennedy family in our thoughts and prayers during this trying time, as they mourn the loss of both Ted and his sister Eunice. Senator Kennedy's great shadow of leadership which loomed so large across the United States Senate will continue for years to come, and I hope the Kennedy family and my colleagues can find solace in the fact that Ted has joined our Heavenly Father."

Governor Ted Strickland's Statement:

Columbus, Ohio - Ohio Governor Ted Strickland today issued the following statement in response to the passing of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy:

"I have known Senator Kennedy for many years, and I am deeply saddened by the news of his passing.

America has lost an extraordinary public servant who was the leading voice for the least fortunate. A towering figure in the United State Senate and the American political imagination, his life exemplified the deepest commitment to a simple idea: service to others. His advocacy for the poor and disenfranchised will survive long beyond his living years.

It is difficult for many of us to imagine the U.S. Senate without Ted Kennedy. He spent five decades there, tirelessly striving for a more perfect union. Now, he rests with his brothers in a more perfect place, and in our nation's collective memory.

Frances and I extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Kennedy family and all those whose lives were bettered because of Sen. Ted Kennedy."

Harry Reid, Senate majority leader (D-Nevada)         

"Because of Ted Kennedy, more young children could afford to become healthy. More young adults could afford to become students. More of our oldest citizens and our poorest citizens could get the care they need to live longer, fuller lives. More minorities, women and immigrants could realize the rights our founding documents promised them. And more Americans could be proud of their country. Ted Kennedy's dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize. The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die."

Nancy Reagan, former first lady

"Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him."

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah)

"Today America lost a great elder statesman, a committed public servant, and leader of the Senate. And today I lost a treasured friend.

"Ted Kennedy was an iconic, larger than life United States senator whose influence cannot be overstated. Many have come before, and many will come after, but Ted Kennedy's name will always be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the United States Senate and the work completed within its chamber."

Nancy Pelosi, House speaker

"Sadly, Senator Kennedy left us exactly one year after he inspired the nation with his speech of optimism, vitality and courage at the (Democratic National) Convention in Denver (Colorado). Rooted in his deep patriotism, his abiding faith, and his deep concern for the least among us, no one has done more than Senator Kennedy to educate our children, care for our seniors, and ensure equality for all Americans."

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is married to Kennedy's niece Maria Shriver

"Maria and I are immensely saddened by the passing of Uncle Teddy. He was known to the world as the "Lion of the Senate," a champion of social justice, and a political icon. Most importantly, he was the rock of our family: a loving husband, father, brother and uncle. He was a man of great faith and character."

George H.W. Bush, former president

"Barbara and I were deeply saddened to learn Ted Kennedy lost his valiant battle with cancer. While we didn't see eye-to-eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service -- so much so, in fact, that I invited him to my library in 2003 to receive the Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service. Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the United States Senate -- a leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body's history."

Tony Blair, former British prime minister

"Senator Kennedy was a figure who inspired admiration, respect and devotion, not just in America but around the world. I saw his focus and determination first-hand in Northern Ireland, where his passionate commitment was matched with a practical understanding of what needed to be done to bring about peace and to sustain it. I was delighted he could join us in Belfast the day devolved government was restored."

Gordon Brown, British prime minister

"Senator Edward Kennedy will be mourned not just in America, but in every continent. He is admired around the world as the senator of senators. He led the world in championing children's education and health care, and believed that every single child should have the chance to realise their potential to the full. Even facing illness and death, he never stopped fighting for the causes which were his life's work."

Brian Cowen, Irish prime minister

"In this country, Ted Kennedy will be remembered with great affection and enduring respect. Throughout his long and distinguished career in politics, Ted Kennedy has been a great friend of Ireland. He has used his considerable influence in the world's most powerful parliament for the betterment of this island."

©2009 WOIO. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.