Rosemary Kennedy

Rosemary Kennedy (September 13, 1918January 7, 2005) was the third child and first daughter of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, born a year after U.S. President John F. Kennedy. She was christened Rose Marie Kennedy, though was commonly known as Rosemary. To her family and friends, she was known as Rosie.

Rosemary was a shy and reportedly mentally slow child, symptoms which some believe point to dyslexia or some slight brain damage at birth. I.Q. tests reportedly indicated a mild retardation. Diaries written by Rosemary in the late 1930s and published in the 1980s, however, reveal a sunny, slightly backward young woman whose life was filled with outings to the opera, tea dances, dress fittings, and other social interests. She also was presented to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during her father's tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Britain.

Placid and easygoing as a child and teenager, however, the maturing Rosemary became increasingly assertive in her personality and subject to violent mood swings that some observers have since attributed to her difficulties in keeping up with her active siblings as well as the hormonal surges associated with sexual maturation. In any case, the family had difficulty dealing with the often stormy Rosemary — she had begun to sneak out at night from the convent where she was being educated and cared for — and feared that without the proper supervision or medical treatment, she might become pregnant or perhaps publicly embarrass the family in another fashion.

In 1941, when Rosemary was 23, her father asked the well-known neurologist Walter Freeman to perform a prefrontal lobotomy. Rosemary was reduced to an infantile mentality that left her staring blankly at walls for hours; her verbal skills became unintelligible babble and her mood swings continued unabated. Biographers have reported that her father was shattered by the results of the operation.

Rosemary Kennedy inspired her sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver's work with the Special Olympics.

She lived at St. Coletta School for Exceptional Children in Jefferson, Wisconsin, a residential institution for disabled people, until her death on January 7, 2005, at the age of 86. Hers was, and, currently, is, the only natural death among the deceased children of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. Rosemary Kennedy died with her surviving sisters and brother, United States Senator Edward Kennedy, by her side.

See also

External links

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