Departing CA president will be celebrated today Public to honor Kennedy, who retires Aug. 20

August 02, 1998|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

Dozens of Columbia residents and county leaders are expected at today's public celebration of the career of the only president the Columbia Association has had.

Padraic M. Kennedy, 64, will retire Aug. 20 after 26 years as CA president. Ice cream and Irish music will be offered on the shores of Lake Kittamaqundi in honor of his tenure.

Kennedy will be replaced by Deborah O. McCarty, a former Atlanta city councilwoman and parks and recreation director.

A former director of VISTA, the domestic Peace Corps, Kennedy came to Columbia in 1972 after being intrigued and inspired, he has said, by developer James W. Rouse's vision of making "a garden of growing people." He and his wife, Ellen, are well-known for taking active roles in establishing an arts scene in Columbia.

Often called the mayor of Columbia -- a title he rejects -- Kennedy has overseen the Columbia Association's growth into one of the country's largest homeowners associations. He has become best-known for sparing few expenses to build the planned community's recreation facilities.

The CA oversees 800 full-time employees, an annual budget of $44 million, almost 3,000 acres of open space, 77 miles of pathways, and summer day camps. It is funded by liens that Columbia property owners must pay.

An invitation-only reception for 200 people will be at 5 p.m. at the Spear Center for some of Kennedy's friends and associates. At 7 p.m., the Celtic Thunder, a Washington band, will entertain the public at the lakefront, and several county and Columbia leaders will speak. The two events are expected to cost the CA about $5,000.

"Kennedy is a very dedicated worker," said Andrew Stack, chairman of the Owen Brown village board. "I always think of him as a conciliator. He has a really good demeanor in dealing with issues that can get heated, whether it's an audience talking about building more facilities, to problems of people hanging out at night on open space, or battles over rates.

"He will listen, but he is firm."

Many of Columbia's pioneers said Kennedy shares Rouse's vision of creating a racially and economically mixed community.

"Pat came here and cared about people," said Dr. Henry M. Seidel, one of Columbia's early residents. "He gave them a voice."

Pub Date: 8/01/98

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