(MOBILE, Ala.) - Longtime Democratic State Rep. Dr. Yvonne Kennedy of Mobile has died.
A family spokesperson said Kennedy passed away Saturday morning at UAB Hospital in Birmingham with her family at her bedside. First elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1979, Kennedy was the president of Bishop State Community College in Mobile for 25 years.
Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said Kennedy was instrumental in the growth of Bishop State, expanding the school from one campus to three during her tenure there.
"Dr. Kennedy was a tremendous leader in our community, especially in the field of education and also in the community as a whole," Jones said. "She is a pillar of this community. Has been for many many years, and this will be a tremendous loss to all of us."
Spring Hill College Instructor Rhonda Lucas said it's through Kennedy's example that she has become who she is today. Lucas said her first encounter with Dr. Kennedy is one she'll always remember.
"She had this way about her where she spoke to you like you were the most important person in the room," Lucas said. "I remember meeting her when I was a teenager. I was just in awe how she just stood there, and she really listened to what I had to say."
Lucas said she saw a leader in herself when Kennedy became the national president of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.
"I knew then that the dreams that I had could actually come true because there was somebody that looked just like me, from the same little town, from the same little area that could do that, then I could do it too," Lucas said.
Lucas said Kennedy's death came as a shock to her, and it was through her own tribute on her Facebook page that she saw her mark in the community.
"That's when it really hit me," Lucas said, "and that's why those words just sort of came pouring out. I didn't know where they were coming from, but I just felt like I had to tell somebody how I felt.
"When I flipped and saw so many people had liked it or responded I realized that, 'Oh somebody's reading what I'm writing."
Dr. Yvonne Kennedy was 67 years old. Funeral arrangements for Kennedy are pending.