St. George, Utah – Leon Joseph Kennedy, a man loved and adored by family and community, passed away on August 6, 2021, at the age of 86. He was born January 5, 1935, in Matthews, Missouri to Roy Lee Kennedy and Madge Wilson Kennedy. He married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Jean Nuttall, on November 20, 1953, in the Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the New and Everlasting Covenants of Marriage. The son of a military family, Leon grew up on several military bases, including a year in Tokyo, Japan from 1947-48. At Fort Jackson in South Carolina, an enterprising 10-year-old Leon started his first business selling bagged peanuts at the military base theater.
While working as a janitor at the Provo Airport, young Leon used his paycheck toward flying lessons and had his pilot’s license before he had his driver’s license. He was as happy as a king flying over the valley and mountains to spot deer herds, buzz his high school grounds, tip the wings for Dorothy and his fellow students, and flying folks to and from Brownsville, TX during the winter months.
Best friend and childhood military mate, Melvin Ashton, and his family were an integral part of Leon’s early years. Melvin’s father, Frank Ashton, affectionately known as the “The Sherriff,” became a surrogate father and a guiding light throughout the years for Leon and his family.
Leon was on the high school football team and the track team, breaking the Alpine School District record for the half-mile and mile run. His love for singing, which began in high school choir along with Dorothy, became a family tradition. Leon always made a point to find unique ways to connect with his six children, grandkids, and great grandkids through song, trips to Lake Powell, and family reunions. He made each one feel special with meaningful, consistent gestures that resulted in deep love and affection.
Leon ended his storied work history of 40 plus years as a math teacher at Springville Junior High, where students vied to get a seat in one of Mr. Kennedy’s classes. He was simply the best. Leon earned his bachelor’s degree in Math from BYU on the GI bill in 1984, fitting in studies and student teaching assignments while working as the store manager for Allen’s Market in Provo for 28 years. In both of his careers, it was Leon’s engaging personality and steady leadership that cemented the bonds among students, families, and community.
In retirement, Leon became an avid golfer and, not surprisingly, the president of the close-knit St. George community, The Ridge, where he and Dorothy lived. With Dorothy as his companion, the two traveled the world, but it was the wonder and vastness of Alaska that held a special place for Leon, which he generously shared with his children and grandchildren on family trips.
His recitals of cowboy poetry were legendary, his humor disarming, and his affable nature relaxing. People justly gravitated toward him wherever he went.
Leon is survived by a sister, Joan Kennedy Hester, five children, Steven, Kim (Steve), David, Susan (Richard) and Patricia, 12 grandchildren, and a band of great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, stepmother Connie, wife Dorothy of 66 years and son Michial.
Our beloved cowboy has gone to Heaven to be with Dorothy; he will be dearly missed here on Earth.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, September 18, 1 PM, at the St. George Stake Center, 591 W 500 N, St. George, Utah, where we will celebrate the rich lives of both Leon and Dorothy Kennedy. A reception at The Ridge Clubhouse, 628 Ridgeview Dr., St. George, Utah will follow directly after the church service at approximately 3 PM, where we welcome your personal tributes and anecdotes.
Our family is grateful for all expressions of sympathy for our parents. In lieu of flowers, a fund has been established to drill a well for safe drinking water in a village in Liberia where their daughter Kim and her husband are currently serving a mission. Online donations can be made at:
Also, we encourage donations to the following charities:
International Myeloma Foundation
Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff Street, St. George, Utah. 435-673-2454. Family and friends are invited to sign Leon’s online guest book at