Bernard Kennedy  was  co-chairman of King Kullen.

Bernard Kennedy was co-chairman of King Kullen. Credit: King Kullen

One of the lesser-known avocations of Bernard D. Kennedy, co-chairman and former president at the family-owned King Kullen chain of grocery stores, was writing operas.

“He actually had several productions put on over at Molloy College” in Rockville Centre, said Bernard P. Kennedy, one of his sons.

Bernard D. Kennedy died Feb. 17 at his home in Point Lookout, surrounded by his family. He was 92.

“I think the most succinct way to describe my father would be to say that he lived a faithful and a faith-filled life,” said Bernard P. Kennedy, who is secretary and general counsel of Bethpage-based King Kullen.

King Kullen was founded by his uncle, Michael Cullen, in 1930 and now has 32 stores on Long Island.

Born June 27, 1925, in Syracuse, Kennedy was the son of J. Donald Kennedy and Gertrude Cullen Kennedy.

He was raised in St. Albans and Hollis, Queens, and graduated from Chaminade High School, a Catholic boys’ high school in Mineola, in 1943.

During World War II Kennedy served in the Navy as a gunner on a ship in the North Atlantic. He returned to New York after he was discharged in May 1946.

In 1949 he married Dorothy Bloodgood, and they had five children by 1957.

Kennedy began working in an entry-level office position at King Kullen in 1949. He worked various jobs, including buyer, assistant vice president and vice president for merchandising, before becoming president, a position he held from 1984 to 1998. He remained co-chairman of the board until his death.

Kennedy earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in marketing from St. John’s University in 1954. He took night classes to earn a degree from St. John’s law school four years later.

For more than 70 years, Kennedy contributed to the success of King Kullen, his cousin Brian Cullen, co-president of the company, said in a letter to employees this week.

“Mr. Kennedy is responsible for many of the merchandising and marketing changes and improvements we have made over the years and as was his way, he personally oversaw countless details that enhanced our offering in the marketplace,” Cullen wrote.

Kennedy volunteered for several nonprofit organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, where he spearheaded the acquisition of Mashomack Preserve, a 2,039-acre property on Shelter Island; St. John’s University President’s Council; and the former Long Beach Medical Center, where he was the board president for years.

Kennedy enjoyed fishing off the jetties in Point Lookout and was an avid golfer.

Besides his wife of 68 years and his son, of Point Lookout, he is survived by children J. Donald Kennedy of Rockville Centre, who is co-president of King Kullen, Maura LaBella of Point Lookout, Terence Kennedy of River Forest, Illinois, and Dr. Eugene Kennedy of Summit, New Jersey. He also leaves 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Visiting will take place 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at O’Shea Funeral Home, 603 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh.

The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, 75 Parkside Dr., Point Lookout.

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