John Kennedy: Success in business and family life

John Kennedy, general manager of Art Newsome, Inc., pictured with the company's namesake.
(Photo by Cathy Welch)

In May, John Kennedy will celebrate 25 years with Art Newsome Inc. (ANI). As a skilled construction and heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) specialist, he has led the company to its prominent place and success in the community. He has been general manager for 15 years and handles the residential side of the business. “My duties run the gamut from contract negotiation to cleaning toilets,” he says with a grin.

More important than his profession, however, is Kennedy’s family. He has two stepdaughters, who are grown; two adopted daughters, who are 10 and 4 years old; and two grandchildren, a boy and a girl. “My life is about them,” he says. I see them in the morning, pick them up from school and play with them at night. Fortunately I have flexible hours, which allow maximum family time.”

When Kennedy and his wife Barbara decided they wanted to add to their family, they investigated adoption and in vitro. While they were still considering possibilities, a family situation presented the opportunity to adopt a child who was related. Though all involved were in agreement, there were still “hoops” to jump through.

“Social Services was involved and there was a bureaucratic process,” says Kennedy. “However, I cannot say enough about the kind, professional way the situation was handled. I have a huge respect for the social workers,” he says.

Later, when another baby needing adoption came to their attention, they added to the family. So Harper joined her sister Olivia. Once again Social Services smoothed the process. “My oldest daughter was so impressed that she got her Masters degree in social work and is now a school guidance counselor,” says Kennedy. “I am definitely a proponent of adoption,” he adds.

When Kennedy was asked in an informal survey what person he would choose to be for 24 hours if given the opportunity, he said that he would like to spend the time as his daughters—12 hours each. “Having the chance to be a father later in life has had an unexpected effect on me,” he says. “My life now is all about them,” he adds.

Kennedy is a strong supporter of Special Olympics and takes the Polar Plunge every year. “I took my first plunge 15 years ago,” he says. His sister-in-law recruited him for her team. Then 10 years ago, Kennedy approached ANI’s owner and suggested that the company have a team. “We have participated ever since,” he says. “We have raised approximately $100,000. We have 15 to 21 team members and join the plunge in Virginia Beach. There are thousands of people there.” How does he stand the cold? “I am well insulated. It is a great experience. I have a smile on my face all day long,” he says.

ANI also supports Habitat for Humanity. “We provide HVAC services as well as expertise and materials. I supervise the project. We complete one home per year,” he says. Kennedy is a contributing columnist for Oyster Pointer. He writes about HVAC topics. “I hope to provide good information in a nontechnical way,” he says.

Kennedy was born in Troy, New York. “I grew up as a Navy brat,” he says. He lived in Newport, Rhode Island, and Naples, Italy, before settling in Newport News in the sixth grade. His parents currently live in North Carolina.

Since high school he has played a guitar. “I taught myself,” he says. “My father and grandfather both played, so we had jam sessions together. I was in a number of bands between 2003–2014. I sing horribly. I’m probably better in the shower,” he adds. Nevertheless, he always plays and sings his daughters to sleep every night. “We also have sing-alongs while they are in the tub. They like rock and roll music.”

“There’s not much time for exercise,” says Kennedy. “I like skateboarding. There is a skateboard park in Williamsburg. When I have work there, I take my board and skate during lunch.”

As for travel, Kennedy would like to take his daughters to Disney World and the Outer Banks. “My ‘bucket list’ has the Caribbean (beaches), the Maldives and Cabo, Mexico, on it,” he says.

Kennedy has combined professional success with humanitarian causes and family time. “I have a very happy life,” he concludes.

John Kennedy, general manager,
Art Newsome Inc.
Address: 728 City Center Blvd., Newport News VA 23606
Phone: 757-873-0345

About Nancy P. Sykes 87 Articles
Nancy was a devoted writer and friend of Oyster Pointer for more than 25 years. She wrote more than 250 features during those years. She always said she met some fascinating people during her many interviews. Her sparkling personality and joyful conversations could be felt in her writing. Nancy will be greatly missed by all who knew her, especially her Oyster Pointer family.

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