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Thursday, March 26, 2015

John A. Kendrick, 83

John A. “Jack” Kendrick, who lived for a time in Westport during the 1960s and 70s, died March 9 at the home he shared with his wife Ulla in Stockholm, Sweden. He was 83.

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John Kendrick: actor, poet, athlete. Contributed photo

Born in Vermont in 1931 and raised in Lake Placid, N.Y. along with his four sisters and one brother, he rose from humble beginnings to become an internationally respected author, athlete, actor and educator.

He was known especially for his several volumes of poetry and as a playwright. He was a roving Cold War ambassador, often for USAID, and shared his poetry and athleticism wherever he went as well as his pride in his adopted hometown of Lake Placid.

In the 1960s and 70s, he lived with his sister, Agnes Reiss, at her home in Westport and performed at the Westport Country Playhouse, gave poetry readings at the Westport Library and helped coach the Staples wrestling team as well as its track and field teams.

His accomplishments were varied. He was inducted into the St. Michael’s College Athletic Hall of Fame and the Lake Placid Hall of Fame, won two Rockefeller Arts Foundation Grants for poetry and drama, and the Dublin (Ireland) Festival Award for drama.

He also twice won the Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s Fringe First Award—once for his one-act play “Just Keep Listening” and again for “Third Class Carriage,” produced at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts and Pendragon Theatre, with Pendragon’s production taken to Edinburgh and then toured to Stockholm and Dublin.

As an actor, he had small bit parts in the 1981 film “Victory” and 1989’s “White Hot,” and a much larger role in the daytime soap “Days of Our Lives.” The majority of his performances were on stage, especially starring in the plays he wrote and often at the Westport County Playhouse.

He was an eight-time New York Athletic Club boxing champion, decathlon champion (U.S. Army, Europe, 1955) and eastern U.S. AAU decathlon champion. He coached championship teams in wrestling, track and field, boxing, basketball, rugby and field hockey at nine different universities in the United States and Europe.

He was predeceased by his parents, Joseph and Addie Kendrick of Lake Placid, his brother, Joseph Kendrick, sisters, Theresa Patnode, Mary Pat Chase and Cecelia (Chumer) Savage, nephews, Patrick Kendrick, Damian Hopkins and Paul Hopkins, and nieces Agnes Kendrick Reiss and Kathryn Kendrick.

He is survived by his wife Ulla Nordlof Kendrick, their son Rhidian, his partner Melanie and two grandsons, Linus and Simon, of Stockholm, Sweden, and his sister Agnes Kendrick Reiss of Westport.

A memorial service will be held in Lake Placid in late spring at a time to be announced. Donations in his name may be made to St. Michael’s College.

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Posted 03/26/15 at 12:02 PM  Permalink



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