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Feb. 28, 2024 | Number 1590

In This Issue:

- Obituary for Kathleen Kendall (Submitted by Trevor Parry-Giles)

Obituary for Kathleen Kendall (Submitted by Trevor Parry-Giles)

Trevor Parry-Giles ([email protected])

Our dear friend and colleague Kathleen Kendall passed away on February 17, 2024, after a brief illness. Kathy was 86 years old, a resident of Washington, DC, a valued colleague in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland, and a kind friend to so many in the Communication discipline. We will miss her terribly.

Kathleen Kendall was a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio where she majored in Government. After receiving an M.A. in Speech & Theatre from the University of Southern Mississippi, Kathy went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Speech & Theatre from Indiana University; she graduated in 1966 and was a proud advisee of the late, great Robert Gunderson. In 1964, she began a 36-year career on the faculty of the Department of Communication at the University of Albany—State University of New York, serving as chair of that department from 1983-1986. Upon her retirement and relocation to Washington, DC (where she lived for over two decades in an apartment once occupied by Harry S. and Bess Truman), Kathy became a Research Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland in 2001, where she was an inspiration to many and a classroom instructor for hundreds of UMD students.

To all who knew her, Kathy was always a compelling interlocuter about all things political. She made many significant contributions to the field of political communication, most notably with her ground-breaking book on presidential primaries (Communication in Presidential Primaries: Candidates and the Media, 1912-2000, published in 2000 by Praeger) and with the expansive book she edited in 1995 entitled Presidential Campaign Discourse: Strategic Communication Problems (SUNY Press). Kathy published dozens of articles in journals and as book chapters, including one of the most significant studies of Horace Mann’s rhetoric in the Quarterly Journal of Speech and a pivotal work on the “the ideal candidate” that appeared in American Behavioral Scientist. Kathy also published a germinal work on presidential primaries published as a research paper from her time as a research fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard. Kathy was also the executive producer of an educational video distributed by Films for the Humanities and Sciences entitled, Primaries: Defining the Battle in New Hampshire. Much of the material for the film was drawn from her quadrennial trips to New Hampshire (often with Judith Trent, Montague Kern, and others) to observe and study the primary campaign process. Her legacy for political communication and rhetorical scholars is tremendous and she remains the go-to source for anything and everything to do with presidential primaries.

A true public intellectual, Kathy was frequently interviewed by an assortment of media outlets about presidential primaries, presidential debates, and campaign communication, including the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Wall Street Journal, and the Boston Globe. Her video appearances riddle the C-SPAN archives and she appeared often on Albany media, including weekly “adwatches” in 1992 for Albany’s CBS affiliate. Professionally, Kathy regularly attended conventions and conferences; she was always at the Eastern Communication Association convention, eagerly participating in the annual Wine-and-Spots event (which she founded) or attending panels or simply supporting new and seasoned scholars with her kind, but challenging, questions or comments. Kathy was honored by ECA as both a Distinguished Teaching Fellow and a Distinguished Research Fellow. She was active as recently as 2022-23 as a program planner for the Emeritus Division of the National Communication Association and for ECA’s Political Communication Interest Group.

Kathy enjoyed collecting pottery, reading The New York Times and/or the Washington Post daily, and attending cultural events ranging from art exhibits to theatre productions to dance performances. She was a member of the Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens, where she often took out-of-town visitors. She is survived by her only child, Zachary Kendall.

Always a mentor, always kind, always curious, and always a wonderful colleague, Kathy Kendall will be missed by all who knew her; we are so grateful for her tremendous scholarly and personal legacy and her memory will forever be a blessing.

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