RUMFORD — Thursday morning was bittersweet on Penobscot Street at the Kennard family house for Carolyn Kennard and her daughter, Margery Kennard.

The two women were reminiscing and preparing to go through several family photo albums. Specifically, they were looking for pictures of Fredric L. Kennard — Carolyn’s husband of 52 years, and Margery’s beloved father — for a celebration of his life on Saturday in Rumford. It will be held at 1 p.m. at the Virgin Memorial Chapel of the Rumford United Methodist Church.

Fredric Kennard, 78, died Tuesday at his residence, just two weeks after he was diagnosed with liver cancer that had spread to his kidneys, Carolyn Kennard said.

“It’s been a rough two weeks,” she said, tears welling in her eyes. “He had the kind of cancer that its symptoms don’t show up until it’s too late.”

“I think we knew something was wrong, but he was so tough,” Margery Kennard said. “He would never tell anyone and he would just suck it up. His worst fear was to die either in a hospital or a nursing home — so we made sure that didn’t happen.”

Fredric Kennard was born an only child in Dixfield. The family moved to Mexico, where he was raised. He graduated from Mexico High School in 1953 and went right to work in Oxford Paper Co. in Rumford — just like his father, Leslie Kennard, had done. He worked as a millwright and maintenance foreman before retiring in 1998.


Kennard also served as an Oxford County commissioner from 1994 to 2004, when Margery began law school, and as a Rumford selectman from 1974 to 1983. He was still serving on the board of the Rumford Water District when he died.

Fredric Kennard was a conservative Republican until he switched parties in the 1980s, “because he said that the Republicans were not for the working class,” Margery Kennard said.

After that, he became a very conservative Democrat except, of course, when he was being a liberal. His wife remained a Republican.

“Dad voted across party lines a lot,” Margery Kennard said. “He voted for who he thought would be the most practical.”

He loved politics and talking politics, especially with his wife’s brothers when everyone got together for Thanksgiving at the home of Carolyn Kennard’s sister in Andover.

“He was fascinated with municipal government and wanted to do good things for the town,” Carolyn Kennard said. “He was very practical on town issues. He could see what was needed and he would fight for what was needed.”


Fredric Kennard loved to fish and was an excellent boatsman — both on freshwater and the ocean, his daughter said. He also loved to play golf and was a very talented athlete, playing high school football and performing shot put for track and field.

She said he was an amazing vocalist and had a great sense of humor. He loved to tell jokes, especially ones requiring an accent, because he used to do impressions at the dinner table: Jackie Gleason, Sean Connery, John Wayne and many other actors and fellow employees.

“He was a multifaceted man,” Carolyn Kennard said.

For the last few months, she said she suspected something was wrong with her husband, as did the couple’s dog, Daisy, a 7-year-old retriever.

“Dad loved his dogs,” Margery Kennard said. Before Daisy, they had another retriever after starting out with German shepherds. “He loved our dogs and everybody else’s dogs.”

Carolyn Kennard said she would take Daisy for walks, but for the last month of her husband’s life, she refused to go outside until after he passed away. Daisy would sit on the couch between them when they watched the evening news and lay her head on Fredric Kennard’s lap.


“I think she knew,” Carolyn Kennard said. “I knew, but maybe I just didn’t want to know. I mean, no matter what I cooked that he liked, he would take two tiny little bites and that was it.”

She said she kept prodding him to make an appointment at the hospital. He wouldn’t, until finally he listened. But it was too late.

“He made the appointment, but he never made it, because he went into the hospital before that,” Carolyn Kennard said.

He was in the hospital a week, and then they brought him home for his last week.

Carolyn, a retired history and science teacher of 35 years, had a computer and Margery helped her set up Skype on it so Fredrick could video chat with his other daughter, Margaret Forest, who lives in Abiquiu, N.M., with her husband.

“He loved that,” Margery Kennard said. “Every day, when he was laying in his hospital bed, he would say, ‘Can you set up that Stripe thing?’ He just looked so moved and happy. We would set it up and he would talk for a couple hours every day.


“He always had a big smile on his face when he could see Margaret,” Carolyn Kennard said.

When Fredric Kennard died, his wife, Margery and Daisy were right beside him.

“It was a sad thing,” Carolyn Kennard said.

After he was gone and they moved the hospital bed, Daisy kept looking inside it, trying to find him.

“She always used to sit with him right here on the porch in the hospital bed,” Margery Kennard said. “She used to get in it, but she won’t get in it now.”

The women shared memories of their life with Fredric Kennard.


Carolyn said they first met on a blind date — something she absolutely loathed —  but her roommate kept after her when they went to Boston to interview for teaching jobs in Los Angeles.

Her roommate, Irene Roberts, at the Maine Teachers College in Gorham, set her up with Fredric to attend a spring dance at the Rumford Armory.

Almost everything clicked.

“When we were going together before we were married (in April 1962), we played golf and he got disgusted, because I played eight holes and my score was up to 200,” Carolyn Kennard said, laughing. “And I kept saying, ‘I thought it was the high score we needed.'”

Sharing another anecdote, she said that after they got married, her husband jokingly accused her of trying to kill him for years.

She was an avid hiker while her husband hated it. But she didn’t realize that until after their first — and only — hike together.


“Mom took him up Mount Washington on one of their first dates,” Margery Kennard said. “And I’m like, ‘You’re insane. Mount Washington? Why not start with Tumbledown or something easier like Rumford Whitecap at least?'”

Carolyn Kennard said she told her husband to take a lot of clothing because she knew the weather could turn bad in an instant on the 6,288-foot-high mountain in New Hampshire. She took him up the challenging Lion Head Trail.

“And it turned out to be 70 degrees on top, and it took me until 4 o’clock to get him up there,” she said. “And after we came down, for years, he made a joke of it, telling people, ‘The year after we were married, she tried to kill me on Mount Washington.'”

“I was thinking, ‘Go for the ultimate, and you can tell whether he’d really like it or not.’ That was kind of a mistake on my part,” Carolyn Kennard said.

Fredric Kennard also loved to watch sports, and was a Patriots and Yankees fan.

“And he loved Moxie,” Margery said.

The day before her father died, he asked for the beverage. She bought him a big bottle, chilled it and gave him a glass.

“He took a couple of sips of it, and then his eyes got really big and he pointed to the glass and said, in all seriousness, ‘Boy, I really needed that,'” she said. “It was so funny, and then I was just laughing. Later on, he said, ‘I just love that Moxie.'”

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