Father George V. Kennard, S.J., died February 27, 2014 at Regis Infirmary, Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, after a brief illness. He was 94, a Jesuit for 76 years, and an ordained priest for 64 years.
Fr. Kennard was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on March 24, 1919. His family moved to Kewanee, Ill., and eventually to Los Angeles. George had long desired to be a priest and entered the Jesuit novitiate at Los Gatos in 1937. Studies took him to St. Louis University, where he obtained his BA and MA degrees. It was here that he developed his life-long interest in philosophy and where he would later return to teach. After a stint teaching at St. Ignatius College Prep and the University of San Francisco, George studied theology at Alma College, Los Gatos, and was ordained a priest in 1950.
Upon completion of studies, Fr. Kennard taught philosophy at Loyola University, Los Angeles, 1952-57 and Santa Clara University, 1957-60. He pursued graduate studies in philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and later taught philosophy at Santa Clara (1969-72), Gonzaga (1972-74), Chaminade (1976-79), USF (1980-94), and St. Louis University (1995-2008), as well as Professor Joseph Tussman’s Experimental College Program at the University of California, Berkeley (1967-69). He retired to Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, in 2008.
George was a man of many talents. He had a brilliant mind and pursued his life interest (his “White Whale,” as he put it) of a rapprochement of the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas and modern philosophy. As a teacher, he introduced students to a wide range of ideas and authors, establishing public forums and student clubs for inquiry and debate.
His varied interests in political, social, and philosophical problems took him in many, often controversial, directions. He lobbied for social action in fair housing practices, preached against racial discrimination, and was involved in ecumenical dialog. He was a musician and jazz aficionado who once wrote the liner notes for a modern jazz LP (Shelly Manne and His Men, v.5, released 1957) and played trumpet in the university pep bands at St. Louis and Santa Clara.
In his retirement years, Fr. Kennard delighted in playing keyboard at community barbeques. He kept up with trends in theology and presented a philosophical paper on Vatican II at a 2013 symposium in Philadelphia. He remained active until a few weeks before his death, playing tennis with friends, and travelling around the Santa Clara Valley by bus and bicycle.
Fr. Kennard was preceded in death by a brother, Vincent, and is survived by a sister, Constance, of Bend, Ore.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, March 7, 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center Chapel, 300 College Avenue, Los Gatos, CA 95030, with committal immediately following at Santa Clara Mission Cemetery, 490 Lincoln Street, Santa Clara, CA 95050.
Donations in memory of Father Kennard may be made to the California Province of the Society of Jesus, P.O. Box 68, Los Gatos, CA 95031 or you may call (408) 884-1632 or make a donation online at www.jesuitscalifornia.org/kennard.