Lena Margaretha Kennedy-Dale (nee Uitenbroek)
February 13, 1925 – July 8, 2021
Lena Margaretha Kennedy-Dale, affectionately known to friends and loved ones as “Gurry,” died peacefully in her beloved home of sixty-five years in Fairfax, Virginia on Thursday, July 8th.
Gurry was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands on February 13, 1925 and was fifteen years old when WWII broke out. The second to the youngest of nine children, she often spoke about the hardships her family endured over the course of the next five years. Rotterdam was heavily bombed, much of it destroyed due to its large harbor. Food was scarce and her brothers were ordered to German labor camps. Shortly after the war ended, a chance meeting on the outskirts of the city led to her meeting her future husband, Dr. Harold “Pat” Kennedy of Belfast, Northern Ireland, a decorated Major in the British Medical Corp who was stationed in Rotterdam with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration assisting refugees return to their homeland. Following their marriage, Pat’s work would take them to Paris, France and then Geneva, Switzerland for positions with the World Health Organization. From there they immigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada where Dr. Kennedy assisted in the formation of the Canadian health care system and finally to the U.S. in the early 1950s, where they settled first in Martinsville, Virginia and finally in Fairfax, Virginia where Pat became Director of Fairfax County’s Health Department from 1952 to 1972.
It was in Fairfax where Gurry raised their three young children and cared for her husband who was paralyzed in 1963 after surgery for what was believed to be a spinal issue. It was later determined to be Multiple Sclerosis. Gurry became his sole caretaker, feeding, bathing and dressing him. At a time when handicap accessibility was nonexistent, she helped him navigate the next twelve years of his life so that he might continue the work he loved until he became too ill. He died in 1975.
After Pat’s death, Gurry happily found another chapter in life with her second husband Dr. Bron Dale of Guelph, Canada. Bron, originally from Poland, had become a good friend to both Pat and Gurry in Saskatchewan, having a shared past of war and immigration from Europe. Bron and Gurry enjoyed their mutual love of travel for five years until his death from heart disease. In 1982, she met her third love, Robert J. Crowell, of McLean, Virginia. Bob shared his passion for the Washington Redskins and they spent many fall weekends brunching at the Touchdown Club and attending games at RFK Stadium. They were inseparable until Bob’s death in March 2005.
Gurry’s strength and perseverance helped her to maintain a carefree spirit despite her life’s challenges. In 2010, at the age of 85 she bravely fought and beat Stage IV lymphoma. Her love for her native Netherlands brought her tremendous joy and she returned home to her sisters and brothers when able and more frequently later in life. She adamantly opposed war and was a proud Democrat. She loved music, politics, learning French, playing bridge, swimming in her backyard pool and the joy of laughing. Friends who came to visit were always treated to fun conversation and shared laughter over a cup of tea, something sweet and a reminder that in the face of problems, “C’est la vie.” She will be greatly missed by her son, Robert of Fairfax, her daughter and son-in-law Cindy and Andrew Fenton of Middleburg, her daughter and son-in-law Caroline Kennedy and Michael Andrien of Alexandria, and two grandsons, Noah and Adam Fenton, both of Newport Beach, California. Gurry is survived by a sister, Elisabeth Verdugt of Schoten, Belgium.
Friends and family will celebrate Gurry’s memory at her cherished home in Fairfax on July 31 from 1-4 PM. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to SmileTrain and So Others May Eat (Some.org).