Jean Kennedy Smith, John F. Kennedy's Last Surviving Sibling, Dead at 92

Jean Kennedy Smith, former ambassador and the last living sibling of John F. Kennedy, died Wednesday night at 92 years old.

By Samantha Schnurr Jun 18, 2020 3:46 PMTags
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The Kennedy family has lost a beloved member. 

Jean Kennedy Smith, the last surviving sibling of late former President John F. Kennedy, has died. The former diplomat was 92 years old and died in Manhattan on Wednesday night, her daughter Kym Smith confirmed to NBC News, noting her mother "lived an amazing life."

That life began in February 1928 as Joseph Kennedy and Rose Kennedy's youngest daughter and the eighth of nine children, which famously included the 35th president of the United States, as well as late former Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy

"My parents felt very strongly, my mother in particular, for if you have a happy home, as much is given, much is expected and she made us very conscious that we were very lucky to have a big family that got a long and that we had a payback time and that we should think about what we're gonna do to help others and we absolutely accepted that as certainly fair enough," Jean recalled in 2011

While she did not run for elected office like some of her siblings, Smith played a supportive role on the campaign trail for her brother John. Many years later in 1993, she was appointed by former President Bill Clinton as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, a role she fulfilled until her retirement in 1998. 

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In 1974, she founded Very Special Arts, known today as VSA or The Kennedy Center's Office of VSA and Accessibility, which works to "provide arts and education opportunities for people with disabilities and increase access to the arts for all." President Obama honored Smith with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. 

Phil Preston/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Smith was married to Stephen Smith from 1956 until his death in 1990. Together, they welcomed two sons, Stephen Smith, Jr. and William Smith, who made headlines in 1991 after being accused and later acquitted of rape. The couple adopted two daughters, Amanda Smith and Kym. 

Following the successive deaths of her brother Ted and sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver in August 2009, Jean told USA Today, "I'm fine... It's the philosophy of our family that you keep moving. That's the way you have to live your life...You have to do things and look at the bright side of life—and remember them with love."

Reacting to the loss, Smith's niece Maria Shriver said on Today, "She was an extraordinary woman, had a great career on behalf of this country as ambassador to Ireland promoting peace there and also started Very Special Arts for people with intellectual disabilities, so I take solace in the fact that she is joining every other member of her family up in heaven so, it's nice for her."

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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