Jean Kennedy: Obituary


Jean Kennedy of Cleveland, GA passed away on February 12, 2020 at her home surrounded by family. Jean was born on December 31, 1932 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to the late Vidalia Mary Clover Ryan and William Henry Ryan.

Jean moved to Helen, GA with her late husband Joe, in the summer of 1973. They discovered Helen while on their drive home to FL following a vacation in Boston. Jean and Joe immediately fell in love with Helen and moved their family there within 2 weeks and opened their candle shop. Jean immersed herself in the artistic side in the business, designing, creating and painting the more than 200 varieties of candles sold in their store. Jean designed and created beautiful cut glass candle holders each night at home. Several years after Jean and Joe moved to Helen, they opened their second candle store in the Nacoochee Valley area of North Georgia. This became their candle factory with all of the candle making equipment and handmade molds to make their candles. Customers could watch the candles being made firsthand in this new facility. Unfortunately, shortly after moving the family business into this new location, an arsonist burned down the entire business leaving Jean and Joe with an irreplaceable loss of their candle molds and artwork.

The Kennedy’s were determined to keep their business in Helen, which had become home to them. Shortly after the candle business was burned down, Jean opened a new store in Helen, Kennedy’s Irish Cottage. Her store was a customer favorite with items from all over the world and Irish music always playing throughout the shop. Jean always seemed to make a connection with each of her customers and would start a conversation with a question showing her interest in them as a customer and their visit to Helen.

Jean was a great cook and loved making dinner for her family. She loved container gardening, crocheting and reading. She loved life, and shared that with everyone in it through her contagious laugh and warm smile. To Jean FAMILY was everything. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her.

Jean was the second to youngest of 11 children and was preceded in death by all of her siblings. Jean was also preceded in death by her oldest son, William James Kennedy. Jean is survived by her 5 children, 11 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren, 3 great-great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

Jean’s entire family would like to acknowledge her amazing team of caregivers for whom we have been so fortunate and blessed to have had caring for our mother. They will forever be part of our family.

The family will receive friends on Monday, February 17th from 12 – 2PM at Barrett Funeral Home, immediately followed by the funeral service in the Chapel with burial to follow at Helen Cemetery.

Flowers will be acknowledged, however it is requested that memorial donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave, Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601

To share a memory or send a condolence, please visit

Barrett Funeral Home of Cleveland in charge of arrangements (706) 865-3101.

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