Oct 13th 1942 - Nov 29th 2013
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” -- E.E. Cummings
With a zest for life and a distinctive laugh that was contagious to all around her, Linda Kennedy Nemitz lived a life full of cherished times spent with her family and friends. Linda was outgoing and bubbly, and she could strike up a conversation with anyone, at any time. After ten minutes with anybody she’d met, she’d know their entire life story! She loved learning, and she loved people. Linda was a devoted wife, mother and gifted actress. Over five decades, she displayed her talents in Michigan regional theatres where she was lauded by her peers and the press. Acting brought great joy to Linda’s life. Linda’s journey was filled with family, friends and events that would shape her future.
Linda Ann Kennedy was born on October 13, 1942, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her parents, Roy Carl Kennedy and Mary Ann Atkins, met while attending Wilmington College. Shortly after December 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor), they decided they would marry, not knowing what the future might hold. Ten months later, Linda was born. Carl was initially a high school basketball coach, but was later recruited by the New York Giants baseball team for whom he played until he was drafted into the Army. He retired as an executive from the Whirlpool Corporation. Linda’s mother was a working mother ahead of her time. As an educator, she received national accolades and traveled internationally, lecturing on early childhood education.
Linda was the eldest of three: brothers, Philip – four years younger – and her beloved little brother Jack. As a student at Saint Joseph High School, she was introduced to dramatics. As a senior, she was named first-runner-up in the Miss Blossom Time Pageant for Southwestern Michigan.
“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” -- Mark Twain
After graduating from high school in 1960, Linda’s life turned in a new and exciting direction. At the Paw Paw Lake Playhouse, she met Art Nemitz, the man with whom she would spend a lifetime filled with love and adventure. However, it wasn’t until they were both acting in the play Send Me No Flowers a few years later for Michigan’s Twin City Players that they began dating. Linda was also attending Western Michigan University at the time, working towards a Bachelor of Arts in education.
With a desire to establish a life together and create a family of their own, Linda and Art were married on September 26, 1964. As they began their marriage, Linda was all set to live a Donna Reed/Doris Day experience. She owned the apron. She owned the casserole dish. What she didn’t yet own was a sense of modern 1970’s feminism. Yet, she quickly adapted and became a guiding force in raising her daughters.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .’” -- C.S. Lewis
The newlyweds settled in an apartment in Kalamazoo, and it was there that Linda met Kay Lennon, who would become her best friend for life. For decades, they talked daily, often on the telephone, for hours on end. Linda believed in friendships that could stand the test of time. Linda’s deep and abiding friendships with Kay and Bob Lennon, John and Kathy Mulay, Patti and Gene Wank, Jack and Joanne Nottingham, Mary Pat and Bob Cooper, Jim and Nancy Carver, Marlowe and Diane Crocker, Jim and Donna Menchinger and Diane Makas and Tom Colwell are a testament to her joyful purpose in keeping close ties with those she loved.
“Mothers are all slightly insane.” – J.D. Salinger
Later and most blessedly, Linda and Art welcomed two daughters, Julie Maria, in 1967, and then Jennifer Kay, in 1970. Linda’s beloved daughters became the focus of her life. She supported them tirelessly in every endeavor they attempted – Girl Scouts, high school forensics, 4H, many school plays and in their adult careers. In addition to caring, for her family, Linda kept busy in other ways. After the girls were older, she went back to college at Western Michigan University and earned her BA in Education.
“Life upon the wicked stage is nothing that a girl supposes.” - Oscar Hammerstein II
She continued to be passionately involved in the theatre at the Sister Lakes Playhouse and the Kalamazoo Civic. The plays that Linda performed in and held most dear were Stop The World I Want To Get Off!, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Plaza Suite, Camelot, Hello Dolly, Mame, Little Me, The Music Man, Our Town, The Robber Bridegroom, On Borrowed Time and her final performance earlier this year in Love, Loss and What I Wore.
As her family and friends can attest, Linda was a fantastic cook whose specialties included “gourmet club” dinners and extravagant holiday feasts for her family. Quality of family dinners was so important to Linda that her son-in-law, Brian Sharkey, in the spirit of the film Dances With Wolves, gave her the nickname “Travels with Meat” as she always packed meat with her whenever and wherever she traveled.
After fifteen years as the Box Office Manager at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, she and Art enjoyed traveling the world, with trips to England, Scotland, Greece, Turkey, Ireland, Czech Republic and Germany. Linda also traveled to Florida on many occasions to visit her parents and provide them with help as they aged. Linda and Art loved their “snowbird” months on Santa Maria Island in Florida. Linda and Art also cherished their many visits to New York City.
“Whoever is happy will make others happy too.” – Anne Frank
Linda’s later years were filled with fun-filled visits with her beloved grandchildren – Leo, Lainey, Lucy and Eliza. She took such pride as her beautiful grandchildren grew. Linda also became “Mimi” to all children around her. Linda loved all babies!!
Everyone who knew Linda would agree that she put the sparkle into the world around her. She was fun-loving with a most distinctive laugh and an amazing sense of humor. Linda was content in whatever life brought, with a positive and happy outlook even through her years of struggle with her health. She loved being at home or at her home away from home - the Kalamazoo Civic.
Linda Nemitz died on Friday, November 29, 2013, at Bronson Hospital. Surviving her are her husband of forty-nine years, Art Nemitz, her daughters Julie Nemitz Madelung (Richard) and Jennifer Sharkey (Brian), grandson Leo Sharkey and granddaughters Lainey Sharkey and Lucy and Eliza Madelung, her brother Jack Kennedy (Elaine), her sisters-in-law Ilene and Patricia Nemitz, and many nieces and nephews.
Linda was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Philip. Please visit Linda’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a memory or photo and sign her memory book online. Memorial donations can be made to the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre or Reverence Home Health Care and Hospice.
This Irish four leaf clover – Family, Friends, Home and Theatre – is what, in the end, Linda held most dear.
“So it’s the laughter we will remember, whenever we remember, the way we were.” -- Alan & Marilyn Bergman