September 11th, 2009
09:52 PM ET
5 years ago

Kennedy began planning funeral before brain tumor

Kennedy began planning funeral before brain tumor.
Kennedy began planning funeral before brain tumor.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Long before Sen. Edward Kennedy was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, the Massachusetts Democrat had already begun planning aspects of his funeral in anticipation of his eventual death.

Rep. Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts, told CNN Friday that Kennedy had informed fellow members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation in 2007 that he had been working on his memorial plans as well as reflecting on his legacy, including the core issue he had championed during his time in the Senate: health care.

"Well, I will tell you about two and a half years ago, when Congressman Meehan decided that he was going to become the chancellor of UMass, we had a little delegation dinner at Legal Sea foods and Senator Kennedy was there and he was in good form, and at that time he laid out for us what the service and ceremony was going to be like," Neal said in an interview Friday with Ed Henry and Mark Preston on CNN Radio's "44 with Ed Henry." "And I thought it was remarkable that the story held. None of us ever (thought) we should trespass on what he was saying that evening. And he talked about his legacy and what he had done, and he certainly raised the health care issue."

Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Massachusetts, announced in the spring of 2007 that he was resigning from office to become the next head of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Meehan's final day in Congress was July 1 of that year.

Kennedy, who died August 25, 2009, was diagnosed with the brain tumor in May 2008.

A source close to the Kennedy family, who was unaware of the 2007 meeting at Legal Sea Foods in Washington, DC, but involved in helping plan the senator's funeral, said it is not surprising that Kennedy revealed that information.

"I can imagine he spoke in broad strokes about it," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The source added that the senator had really focused on specific arrangements of his funeral and memorial service in the months leading up to his death.

Earlier this week, in his national televised speech before Congress, President Barack Obama quoted from a previously undisclosed letter that Kennedy had written to him, in which the senator told the president he believed health care reform would be enacted this year. Obama said Kennedy instructed him to reveal the contents of the letter - dated May 12, 2009 - after his death.


Filed under: Ted Kennedy
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Carole Salak

    He certainly had a premonition about his death. I hope he is also right about health care.

    September 11, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  2. Jackie in Dallas

    The American people do not yet know just what a powerful advocate they had in Senator Ted Kennedy. No, his private life was not perfect, and he made some serious mistakes as a young man, but overall, he crafted landmark bills with Republican support that will endure. I know that there will be typical radicals who jump on and castigate him, yet do not realize that they are enjoying many of the fruits of his 47 years of labor for the people of this country.

    We will not see his like again, at least not until this wave of partisan hatred and divisiveness fades away, which it will eventually do. Sooner or later, hopefully sooner, the good sense of the American people will reappear, and we can go back to civil discourse, and the true spirit of working together while holding differing beliefs.

    Rest in peace Ted, and tell Bobby and John that you carried the torch well.

    September 11, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. Elizabeth

    I have great admiration and respect for Ted Kennedy for his commitment to the poorest of the poor and to the reform of our disastrous health care system, which causes so many bankruptcies and foreclosures. Despite his earlier mistakes, which caused grief to others, such as the family of Mary Jo Kopeckne, he moved courageously ahead to advocate for those who needed it most and brought much good into the world. I hope and believe that his goal of universal, affordable health care will begin to be fulfilled this year.

    September 11, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Nothing wrong with doing that. I think there are a lot of folks out there who wish they could be fortunate to plan ahead and have it all paid for in advance.

    September 11, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. bob in LA

    Why is this news? At 49 my plans were made. Many poeple have plots , cremation or other arrangements made long before they pass.
    Kennedyat 80 surely knew to do this.

    September 11, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  6. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Kennedy's foresight in planning for the end of his life is an inspiration for everyone to consider Living Wills (a/k/a Advance Directives). Be your own "death panel" and spare your family the grief!

    September 11, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  7. Bob in Pa

    It is sad that these types of men are so full of themselves that they would plan there memorial. Not just Ted, but all politicians that even stoop to placing their names and titles on placards of public buildings and bridges during construction. I myself perfer a humble public servant.

    September 11, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  8. David In West Virginia

    Senator Ted Kennedy was the Lion's King of the Democratic Party. We will truly miss him, especially the Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party for his devotion to ALL AMERICANS.

    September 11, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  9. Vikram Patel

    Every true human being always takes time to self-examine the past actions and aspirations and future goals. Senator Kennedy was no different. His passing away has left a huge void in the current healthcare debate, the issue he called it "the cause of his life". Let us not forget his several contributions to the everyday American life. He was a true gem, a legend of the American political system, and his numerous contributions will be remembered for many more generations in the future.

    September 11, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  10. Ken in NC

    While I never met a Kennedy in person, I grew up with them and while I have much respect for each of them for their service to this country, it is Senator Edward M. Kennedy I shall miss the most. RIP Senator. You are missed already but you will never be forgoten.

    September 11, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |