Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Don Kennedy adds more to his already very full plate

ML's volunteer of volunteers carves time for council duties


Last updated 10/5/2018 at 1:41am

Don Kennedy

The true extent to which Don Kennedy might go to give back may have been best illustrated 20 years ago on a cold and snowy Sunday in February.

"It was snowing to beat the band and one of the neighbors called up (and said), 'I've got some friends coming over for a Super Bowl party, can you get out there and plow the road?'" Kennedy, the most recent appointee to the City Council was asked.

Sure enough, living out in the country and a ways from county plows, there he was, outside moving snow while neighbors and friends were inside watching the game.

There was no invite to come out of the cold, just a friendly wave which led Kennedy to say, "To hell with this noise," and it was not long before the Kennedy family was headed from the country to inside the city limits of Medical Lake.

Kennedy's neighbors' loss appears to certainly have been Medical Lake's gain. Name a need for a volunteer and like it or not, Kennedy, and wife Vickie's hand seems to go up.

The 68-year-old father of two is involved with senior citizen causes and Blue Waters Blue Grass. He also serves on church committees as well as on the board of directors for the Riverview Retirement Community.

Kennedy retired from the Federal Land Bank at the end of 2015 and still works as a contractor where he also put his dual geology diplomas and a law degree to work Kennedy was the lone applicant for the seat left vacant by the recent resignation of John Paikuli.

"The calling was that a couple of council members suggested I turn in my application," Kennedy said. Additionally, "Some of the regulars sitting out in the audience were hounding me to turn in my application."

"I am busy, I'm not searching for things to do," Kennedy said, who also referees high school soccer. He indicated when answering a few questions following his appointment that the officiating may have to take a seat behind council as games happen on Tuesdays.

Kennedy grew up in Auburn, Wash. where his dad was in the retail business.

He came to Cheney and attended Eastern Washington State College where Kennedy reminds, "We were Savages back then, before we took off to the skies" in reference to the long banished as politically-incorrect nickname of Eastern athletic teams that are now Eagles.

At Eastern, Kennedy received both a bachelor's degree and master's in geology. 

"The big thing back in the 70s was mining exploration, there used be 40 or 50 mining companies that used to have offices in Spokane," Kennedy said. Jobs were plentiful when Kennedy started the program, but not when he graduated.

However, while doing his master's thesis, a neighbor worked at the Land Bank and told Kennedy's advisor they were looking for a person who knew minerals.

"I bought my first suit, went for an interview - that was in '75 - and ended up getting hired," Kennedy said. "I had no intention of staying, only until the mining industry picked up again; I ended up being there for almost 40 years."

A decade later, Kennedy began attending law school at night at Gonzaga in 1986 while working days. Five years later he took and passed the bar exam and eventually became an independent in-house counsel.

He put his geology degrees to work for 19 years as an oil and gas expert. At one point he managed a couple of million acres of land in 12 western states.

In his new duties helping make important decisions for Medical Lake, Kennedy was urged intrinsically to serve.

"The only reason I applied is I think it's a sad state of affairs where citizens are not involved in government," Kennedy said, who plans to donate his $250 monthly salary back to a local charity, perhaps Care and Share.

Never it seems is there a shortage of people to complain about the way things go or the people in charge, Kennedy said. "There needs to be more people stepping up or otherwise our great republic is in trouble."

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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