Elvira Elizabeth "Bette" Kennedy, a World War II veteran who with her husband co-founded Dawn's Office Supply, died Friday of a heart attack at Emeritus of Towson on North Charles Street.
The longtime Mount Washington resident was 89.
The daughter of a barnstormer and truck driver and an educator, Elvira Elizabeth Lance was born and raised in Oneonta, N.Y., where she graduated in 1942 from Oneonta High School.
She enlisted in the Navy in 1943, and was working as a pharmacist's mate at a naval hospital in Northern California when she met her future husband, Thomas J. Kennedy Jr., a Marine who was recuperating after losing his sight when he was blinded by a Japanese booby trap at Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.
They married in 1944 and moved to Baltimore. In 1946, with $300 in cash, the couple established Dawn's Office Supply. It took its name from Mr. Kennedy's seeing-eye dog, who was named Dawn.
They put replicas of the German shepherd's head on the firm's fleet of delivery trucks, and the dog's image also graced the company's office stationery.
Mrs. Kennedy left the business in 1949 to raise her family, and moved in 1953 to Dixon Hill in Mount Washington, where she lived until 2012, when she moved to Emeritus.
She was a longtime volunteer at Children's Hospital and served on its women's board during the 1970s. She was its president from 1982 to 1984.
In 1980, she was presented an award for her more than 1,000 volunteer hours, and three years later, was honored again for acquiring more than 2,000 volunteer hours.
Her husband died last year.
Mrs. Kennedy was a communicant of St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church, 1008 W. 37th St., where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Surviving are two sons, Thomas J. Kennedy III of Norfolk, Va., and Kim M. Kennedy of Timonium; and two grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun