O’Rourke & O’Rourke
Inc. Funeral Home

25 River Street
Salamanca, NY 14779
phone: (716) 945-4760
fax: (716) 945-4222

Norma Kennedy

Mrs. Norma John Kennedy, 91, passed away on Saturday May 23, 2020.

Norma was born in Coldspring, NY on June 23, 1928 to Ulysses and Loretta Watt John. She spoke often of her memories growing up on her father’s farm and the pure joy she had for her brother and sisters.

Norma raised her children in Buffalo, NY, but continued to keep her family connected on Seneca Territory. While living in Buffalo, she worked for Calspan with independent engineers and government contracts for the aerospace industry. It was in that role Norma received top secret security clearance.

Norma received her Bachelor’s Degree from Empire State College and was instrumental in social services within Seneca Nation and New York State law. In the 1980s, Norma chartered the first Seneca Nation Human Services Department to advocate tribal rights and assist members in dealing with a variety of support-related programs, including alcohol and substance abuse, child and women’s welfare, financial education, and many others. Her passion for learning established her as one of the first Native American Credentialed Alcohol Counselors. She later moved on to Syracuse to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a Tribal Liaison. Norma continued to give back to the Seneca Community, serving in tribal government roles such as Clerk, Peacemaker Court Judge, and as a committee member of the judicial conference. Most recently, she found more ways to give back to her Seneca people as a First Language Elder Mentor for the Seneca Language Department Master Apprentice Program. She spent time educating those who had a passion for the language. She could always be found at her table, ready to engage in conversation with a cup of Tim Hortons coffee in hand and a huge smile on her face.

She could never fully retire even at the age of 91, because she always enjoyed learning; she would often say learning new things kept her young. Norma enjoyed her children, her family, and the simple things in life. She was a caring, sincere friend to all. She was an amazing cook who also loved her plants, gardening, shopping, restaurants, laughing, and car rides. Norma was beautiful, elegant, and full of dignity. She was adventurous in her travels and she loved seeing how others lived. At the age of 87, she took the trip of a lifetime and experienced Italy with a continued smile on her face. She also explored Hawaii, California, and the Florida and the North Carolina coasts to name a few.

Today our Nation is at a great loss, but Norma knew how to seek beauty in any situation and she made all of the lives she touched even better.

She raised three devoted children: Diane Kennedy, Ralph (Teri) Kennedy, and Cindy (Brian) Mohr; and loved her grandchildren, David, Marc, Kari, Jessica, and Travis; and many great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Lillian Taylor, who worked with her where they both could teach and share our native Seneca language.

Friends may call at the family home, 665 Front Avenue, Salamanca on Thursday, May 28, 2020 and Friday, May 29, 2020 from 1 – 7 p.m.

Private funeral services will be held in the family home Saturday, with the public invited to Hillside Haven Cemetery, Steamburg, NY at 11 a.m.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the O’Rourke & O’Rourke Inc Funeral Home, 25 River Street, Salamanca, NY.

E-condolences can be sent to orourke.orourkefh@gmail.com or posted to facebook.com/onofh.