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Ressie 'Ray' Kennedy Sr.


Mt. View Cemetery

Ressie "Ray" Kennedy Sr. was born on Sept. 22, 1894 in the Webster community of near Grafton, Taylor County, WV, the son of Josiah and Ruth Ann (Minerd) Kennedy Sr

He stood 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and weighed 150 lbs. He had eyes and hair of brown. 

Circa 1910, when the census was taken, Ray made his home with his married brother John Henry Kennedy in Knottsville, Taylor County, and worked as a laborer on the home farm. 


World War I. Courtesy Meb Mayle

In 1917, at the age of 22, Ray registered for the military draft during World War I. He apparently did so in absentia, with his father Josiah deputized by the draft board to complete the registration card, upon which Josiah marked his son's race as "Indian." 

Ray indeed served in the military, with the U.S. Cavalry, and when the federal census was taken in 1920, he was stationed at Camp McAllen in Hidalgo County, TX. 

Ray was married to a distant cousin, Cora Bell "Corrie" Mayle (1900-1976), the daughter of Emily Jane "Emma" (Minerd) Mayle. For reasons that are not yet known, the couple did not officially tie the knot until May 6, 1956, when he was age 62 and she 60 and long after they had already produced a large family. Rev. Melvin M. Washington officiated at the 1956 ceremony.

The couple produced a family of dozen children -- Wilma Kennedy, Beryl Eugene Kennedy, Julius M. "Judy" Kennedy; Ressie Ray "June" Kennedy Jr., Virginia Belle Weaver; Melba R. Mayle, Christina R. Mayle, Sheila Mae Sheme, Evelyn Lee Kennedy, Harry "Wilmoth" Kennedy, Catherine Kennedy and Eleanor "Juanita" Newman. 

Sadly, daughter Evelyn died of hepatitis at the age of seven on May 25, 1930.

In 1930, the Kennedys lived at Cecil; in 1942 and 1956, resided at Grafton Route 1, thought to have been Knottsville, when Cora Bell was mentioned in the newspaper obituaries of a sister and brother, respectively. When her brother Burley Mayle tragically was killed in a railroad accident in 1930, the funeral was held in the Kennedys' home.


Obituary, 1990

Ray was a longtime coal miner and farmer. When the Tygart River Dam was constructed near Grafton, in the era 1934-1940, sponsored by the federal government's new Works Progress Administration (WPA) to provide flood control, he was employed as a construction laborer on the project. 

When required to register for the military draft in April 1942, during the World War II eera, he disclosed that he and Cora dwelled in Grafton and that he was working for the WPA.   

He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Memorial City Post 3081 in Grafton and Taylor County Post 12 of the American Legion. 

Cora passed away in 1976 at the age of 76.

Ray outlived his wife by 14 years. He joined her in death on Jan. 5, 1990 in Grafton, at the age of 96, and was buried in Mt. View Cemetery.

One year after Ray's passing, his family published his photograph and a poem in a local newspaper. It read: "A million times we've needed you, A million times we've cried. If love could have saved you, You never would have died. In life we loved you dearly, In death we love you still. In our hearts you hold a place. No one else can ever fill. The golden gates stood open, He saw you needed rest. God's garden must be beautiful, He picked you 'Pap', He picked the best."


Pinecrest Sanitarium in Beckley, where son Harry Kennedy died of TB


~ Son Harry Wilmoth Kennedy ~


Obituary, 1949

Son Harry Wilmoth Kennedy (1915-1949) was born on Jan. 9, 1915. 

Harry never married. 

He "worked for a contractor in Canton, Ohio, for a number of years," reported the Grafton Sentinel.

Suffering from tuberculosis, he was admitted to the Pinecrest Sanitarium in Beckley, Raleigh County, WV. After a stay of just 19 days, he passed away there at age 33, on May 15, 1949.

His funeral was led by Rev. Fred DeCost at Mount View Church, followed by burial at Mt. View Cemetery.


~ Daughter Eleanor "Juanita" (Kennedy) Newman ~

Daughter Eleanor "Juanita" Kennedy (1918- 1969) was born on July 28, 1918. 

When she was age 22 and unmarried in 1940, the year of the federal census enumeration, she resided at home with her parents in Knottsville, Taylor County. 

She is believed to have married Lester "Les" Newman ( ? - ? ).

Research is underway to determine if the couple produced a daughter, Wilda L. (Newman) Mayle (1940-2022). 

Circa 1968, she lived in Canton, OH. 

Sadly, at the age of 50, Juanita surrendered to the spirit of death on April 24, 1969. Her remains were laid to rest in Mount View Cemetery in Clemtown, Barbour County.


~ Daughter Virginia Belle (Kennedy) Weaver ~

Daughter Virginia Belle Kennedy (1921-1991) was born on July 10, 1921. 

She married Leon Weaver (1920-1986), and they lived in Grafton. 

The Weavers had seven children -- Ernest Leon Weaver, Jerry Weaver, Lonnie Weaver, Sue Bice, Laura Jones, Rita Faye Weaver and Delores Jean Sheme. Sadly, their daughter Rita Faye died in infancy on Dec. 30, 1955.

Little is known of their lives.

Leon passed away in February 1986, in Grafton, at the age of 65.

Virginia is believed to have died in Clarksburg, Harrison County, WV on Dec. 16, 1991. A search has been made for an obituary in the Clarksburg newspapers of the era at West Virginia University, but none are on file there for the pertinent date.

Daughter Delores Jean Weaver (1942-2009) was born on Nov. 25, 1942 in Taylor County. She married Charles R. "Chuck" Sheme ( ? - ? ). They resided in the Simpson community of Flemington, and had four children --Karen Dalton, Tammy Setler, Melinda Jenkins and Charles "Renzie" Sheme Jr. Delores passed away at the age of 66 on Aug. 23, 2009. She was laid to rest in the Pritchard Cemetery, reported the Mountain Statesman, following a funeral led by Rev. David Maley.

Son Ernest Leon Weaver (1946-2016) was born on Aug. 4, 1946 in Grafton. In about 1969, at the age of 23, he was joined in holy wedlock with Connie Sue Mayle ( ? -living). They lived along Haislip Cove Road in Grafton and produced two children -- Sheryl Lynne Mayle and Joshua Leon "Josh" Weaver. For 18 years, Ernest was a longtime mechanic specializing in heavy equipment for Poling’s Trucking Company in Buckhannon. He also was a truck driver for Grafton's Refuse Control Systems. He also was a member of the West Hill Wesleyan Methodist Church and the National Rifle Association. On Sept. 30, 2016, Ernest passed away at home at the age of 70. Rev. Paul Mullins and Rev. Paul Miller officiated at the funeral service held at the Pritchard Wesleyan Methodist Church, with burial in the church cemetery.

  • Granddaughter Sheryl Lynn Weaver married Franklin R. Mayle Jr. and made their home in Grafton. Their two children are Kali Jade Mayle and Taylor Nicole Mayle. Franklin is believed to have served as executive director of the Taylor County Senior Center in Grafton circa 2011 and the Housing Authority of the City of Fairmont in Marion County, WV.
  • Grandson Joshua Leon "Josh" Weaver was wedded to Tabitha and lived in Grafton. They produced two children -- Wyatt Wade Weaver and Chloe Brielle Weaver.

Son Jerry Weaver ( ? - ? ) made his home in Grafton. 

Son Lonnie Weaver ( ? - ? ) resided in Grafton.

Daughter Sue Weaver ( ? - ? ) wed John Bice ( ? - ? ) and lived in Grafton in 2009.

Daughter Laura Belle Weaver ( ? - ? ) married Gary Jones ( ? - ? ) and in 2009 resided in Grafton.


~ Son Ressie Ray "June" Kennedy Jr. ~ 

Son Ressie Ray "June" Kennedy Jr. (1926-2013) was born on March 7, 1926 at Grafton. 

At the age of 28, on May 10, 1954, he married Roena Lois "Sis" Kennedy (May 20, 1933-2018), age 21, daughter of Ellis and Alma Kennedy. The ceremony was performed at Simpson, Taylor County by Rev. Fred DeCost, of the Methodist church. 

The couple produced seven children -- Thomas Kennedy, Rev. John Kennedy, Gary Kennedy, Margaret "Peggy" DuVall, Angie Jones, Jeannette "Jan" Moncik and Roseanne "Rosy" Miller.


They resided in Grafton and in Mt. Clemens, MI, circa 1968, and by the 2000s were back in Grafton's Webster community. While in Michigan, Ressie was employed at Sam's Auto Wash and the Woodward and Alfred Service Station. 


In West Virginia, he owned and operated Kennedy's Gulf Station in Blueville, WV for more than a decade. His last job was as a bus driver for the Taylor County Board of Education. Said the Grafton Mountain Statesman, he "enjoyed farming and riding his old Allis Chalmers tractor" and bestowing affectionate nicknames on family and friends.


Roena loved the outdoors, bird-watching, gardening, flower cultivation. She also liked to cook and attending church services, with a special pleasure in sharing her faith with others.


June died at Rosewood Nursing and Rehab on Jan. 28, 2013, at the age of 86. He was laid to rest in West Hill Methodist Church Cemetery, with his son Rev. John Kennedy sharing officiating duties with Rev. Paul Mullen and Rev. Terry Newman. The obituary in the Mountain Statesman said he was survived by 20 grandchildren and "many" great-grandchildren.

Roena outlived her husband by nearly six years. She was admitted to United Hospital Center where she succumbed at the age of 85 on Dec. 1, 2018. An obituary was printed in the Mountain Statesman.

Son Rev. John Kennedy married Lois and lived in Clinton Township, MI.

Son Gary Kennedy made his home in Grafton.

Daughter Margaret "Peggy" Kennedy wed Jack DuVall and resided in Grafton.

Daughter Angie Kennedy married Thomas Jones and called Grafton home.

Daughter Jeannetta "Jan" Kennedy attended the Prichard Wesleyan Methodist Church and is shown in a group photo taken in 1978. She wed (?) Mondik. She resided in Morgantown, Monongalia County, WV.

Daughter Roseanne "Rosy" Kennedy married Mark Miller. Their home was in Grafton.

Son Thomas "Tommy" Kennedy may have married Maxine. He was deceased by 2013.

 ~ Daughter Christina Rosetta "Tean" (Kennedy) Mayle ~

Daughter Christina Rosetta Kennedy (1931-2014) was born on Feb. 3, 1931 in Cecil, Taylor County. She married a cousin, Winfred F. Mayle, the son of Haymond and Bessie (DeCost) Mayle and grandson of Martha Ellen (Mayle) Mayle. See the Mayle bio for more.

~ Daughter Melba Ruth "Meb" (Kennedy) Mayle ~

Daughter Melba Ruth "Meb" Kennedy (1928-2011) was born on Aug. 2, 1928 in Grafton. 

She married Alfred T. "Tenny" Mayle (1922-2011), the son of Earl Creed and Vestine Mayle. They enjoyed 62 years of married life together. 

They had four sons -- Charles E. Mayle, Michael E. Mayle, Alfred Ross Mayle and Kenneth Alfred Mayle. Said the Grafton Mountain Statesman, Melba "was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and sister to her family."

The Mayleses lived in Detroit, MI in 1949 and in Streetsboro, OH in 1968. Tenny was employed as a die setter for three decades at Chrysler Corporation's plant in Twinsburg, OH and was a member of the United Auto Workers Union Local 122. Following retirement, they moved back to Grafton, where they made their home in 1990-2011. While in West Virginia, they were members of the West Hill Methodist Church, and Tenny enjoyed hunting and riding his four-wheeler vehicle.

Melba passed away at the age of 82 in their home on Flag Run Road in the Knottsville community of Grafton, on Feb. 7, 2011. She was laid to rest in the West Virginia National Cemetery in Pruntytown, Taylor County. 

Tenny only outlived her by a few months. He died at the age of 89 on June 1, 2011. He joined his wife in eternal repose at the West Virginia National Cemetery.

Son Charles E. Mayle made his home in Rootstown, OH.

Son Michael E. Mayle wed Marilyn. Their residence was in Ravenna, OH.

Son Alfred Ross Mayle married Ada. They lived in Uniontown, OH.

Son Kenneth Alfred Mayle was deceased by 2011.

~ Son Julius M. "Judy"Kennedy ~

Son Julius M. "Judy" Kennedy (1933-2002) was born on June 11, 1933 in Grafton, Taylor County.

Judy married Audrey Hurless (1932- ? ) on May 19, 1956, with Rev. Charles V. Tate officiating.

They lived at East Canton, Stark County, OH and bore a brood of six children -- Jeffrey Kennedy, Julius M. Kennedy Jr., Pamela Kennedy, Timothy Kennedy, Lurene Moore and Debra Lynn "Debbie" Kennedy. 

Judy "was retired from Republic Steel in 1995 after 20 years of service," reported the Canton Repository

He died in Canton on Nov. 19, 2002 at the age of 69. Rev. Kenny Dalton and Rev. John Kennedy led the funeral service, with burial in Evergreen Memorial Park.

Son Jeffrey Kennedy ( ? - ? )

Son Julius M. Kennedy Jr. ( ? - ? )

Daughter Pamela Kennedy ( ? - ? )

Son Timothy Kennedy ( ? - ? ) 

Daughter Lurene A. Kennedy (1964-2011) was born on April 16, 1964 in Canton. She wed Timothy Moore ( ? - ? ) and had two children, Cassandra Moore and Timothy Moore Sr. Timothy brought a daughter to the marriage, Amanda Phillips. They resided in Canton. Sadly, at the age of 46, Lurene died in Canton's Merecy Medical Center, on April 13, 2011. Her funeral service was led by Brother Kenneth Dalton and Rev. John Troyer, with interment in Evergreen Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Daughter Debra Lynn "Debbie" Kennedy ( ? - ? )


~ Son Beryl Eugene Kennedy ~

Son Beryl Eugene Kennedy (1938-1968) was born in 1938. He never married. 

Beryl moved to Detroit, MI, and was employed by the Duramire Abrasive Company of Warren, Trumbull County, OH. 

Tragically, he died in a hospital in Sandusky, Erie County, OH, on April 11, 1968, following an automobile accident at the age of 29. His remains were returned to West Virginia for burial in Mt. View Cemetery. A search has been made for his obituary in the Barbour Democrat newspaper microfilm collection at West Virginia University, but none was found.


 ~ Daughter Sheila (Kennedy) Sheme ~

Daughter Sheila Kennedy ( ? - ? ) was born in (?).

On May 14, 1958, she was joined in holy wedlock with Jesse Ronald "Ronnie" Sheme (April 24, 1936-2018), a native of Philippi and the son of William and Dalena M. (Dalton) Sheme. They remained together for 60-plus years until the separation of death.

In an interesting twist, Sheila's cousin Ernestine R. "Tina" Mayle, of the family of Emily Jane (Minerd) Mayle, married Ronald's brother William Donald Sheme.

The couple were the parents of three offspring -- Bryan Sheme, William R. Sheme and Sandy Sheme.

They lived in Cleveland, OH in 1968 but were back in Grafton by 1990. They remained in Grafton for the balance of their lives. Said the Grafton Mountain Statesman, Ronald "retired from the U.S. Army with twenty two years of services, he loved talking about his Army days, jumping out of air planes, hunting, collecting marbles, looking for mushrooms, and ginsenging. Never meet a stranger and loved talking with his friends." Their home in 2018 was in the Lucretia section of Grafton.

As Ronald's health declined, he was admitted to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, WV. He died there on Dec. 2, 2018 at the age of 82. Rev. D.J. Maley officiated at the funeral service, held at the Message of Freedom Church. Interment followed in the West Virginia National Cemetery in Grafton, with graveside honors provided by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Memorial City, the Tyalor County American Legion, the Central West Virginia chapter of the Disabled American Veterans and the West Virginia Army National Honor Guard of Camp Dawson.

Son Bryan Sheme ( ? - ? ) makes his home in Quiet Dell, WV.

Son William R. Sheme ( ? - ? ) married Tammy ( ? - ? ). They dwell in Grafton.

Daughter Sandy Sheme ( ? - ? ) lives in Grafton.

Copyright 2005-2018, 2022-2023 Mark A. Miner