Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) August 28, 2009 -- Teddy Kennedy passed way from a brain tumour, at 77 years of age, having spent nearly fifty years in the Senate. Teddy was the youngest son of one of America's most prominent and influential Irish-Catholic families. Joe Kennedy , his father served as Franklin Roosevelt's ambassador to England.
Awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, only five months prior to his death, Teddy Kennedy was not permitted to be known as 'Sir'. He was however recognized as a Knight of the British Empire.
Hailed as 'The most iconic liberal lawmaker' Kennedy's death marks the near-finish of a political dynasty. Teddy's son, Patrick J. Kennedy, is still serving as a congressman. Kennedy was not only a towering figure in the Democratic Party, he was one of the most influential senators of all time. He served nine terms in the Senate and became the third-longest-serving senator. At the time of his death he was the second most senior senator.
Kennedy sought office as a senator, in 1962, adopting the same slogan his brother John had used ten years before, "I (Teddy Kennedy) can do more for Massachusetts". His political career however, was moulded by tragedy and scandal and unfulfilled presidential ambitions.
Throughout his life tragedy continued to nip at Kennedy's heels. His spine was damaged in a plane crash, in 1964. An injury that plagued him with pain for the remainder of his life. Teddy's son, Edward Jnr., lost a leg through bone cancer. Kennedy's first wife battled with emotional strain and alcoholism. Brother, Joe Kennedy was killed in World War 11. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. In 1968 Robert Kennedy was assassinated during a presidential election campaign. In 1999 John F. Kennedy Jr., was killed with his wife, in an aircraft accident. Evolving into the family patriarch, 'Uncle Teddy' became the surrogate father to the 13 Kennedy children.
Kennedy's often tumultuous and controversial personal life appeared to stabilize when he married a lawyer, Victoria Anne Reggie, in 1992.
Kennedy was a staunch backer of the Clinton's, particularly during the Lewinsky scandal. He became disillusioned over some of Hillary Clinton's policies and changed camp, to back Barak Obama. Kennedy became a central-figure in the 2008 presidential election. This change was seen as a symbolic passing of the torch, the Kennedy clan had carried for nearly fifty years.
"He (Kennedy) grew up in the long shadow of his brothers," said Arizona Senator John McCain, "But found a way to be useful to his country in ways that will outlast their accomplishments." Kennedy was well known as being a long-time advocate of national health insurance.
During Barack Obama's inauguration luncheon Kennedy suffered a seizure. His last public appearance was in April, in Washington, when he joined Obama at the White House for the signing of a national service bill named in his honour. Teddy was diagnosed with a brain tumour in May. He passed away at his home on August 25th.