The girl was JFK’s great-niece, Saoirse Kennedy Hill. Her grandfather, Robert F. Kennedy — who also met an untimely end: assassinated during his presidential campaign in 1968 — is buried in an adjacent grave.
Another of Kennedy Hill’s great uncles, the late senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), once spoke of a family “curse,” after an infamous 1969 car incident killed his female passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne. Several of the Kennedys’ most famous scions — a president, a leading contender for president, a U.S. senator and liberal lion, and a beloved socialite — met an untimely death or suffered great personal traumas. But they weren’t the only ones.
America’s 35th president entered the White House on a wellspring of promise but left it in tragedy. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, in a shooting in Dallas.
He was second of nine children born to Joseph and Rose Kennedy, and his death shook the nation. He was not the first, or the last, Kennedy to die unexpectedly.
Robert, who famously served as his older brother’s attorney general during his presidency, built a lasting political legacy of his own. He was elected U.S. senator from New York in 1965. During his presidential campaign in 1968, he was assassinated in Los Angeles after delivering a California primary victory speech.
Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy volunteered for the Red Cross during World War II, first in New York and later in London. She married a British nobleman, William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, who died shortly after being called up to service in 1944. She remained in England after the war and died in a plane crash in France in 1948.
The crash remains one of the most controversial incidents in the family’s history, and inspired the 2017 film “Chappaquiddick” and 1992 novella “Black Water” by Joyce Carol Oates. Kopechne’s death loomed over the rest of his political career, though Kennedy went on to become one of the longest-serving U.S. senators in history and a leading voice for American liberals.
Unlike her siblings, Rosemary suffered traumas inflicted by her own family. Her birth, complicated by human error, probably resulted in her mental disabilities, Meryl Gordon writes in her Times review of the biography “Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter,” by Kate Clifford Larson. Refusing to accept their daughter’s circumstances, family patriarch Joseph Kennedy subjected Rosemary to a prefrontal lobotomy that rendered her severely disabled for the rest of her life. She was hidden away at a mental institution and all but abandoned by her parents.
The next generation of Kennedys endured losses, as well. John F. Kennedy Jr., the late president’s son, was killed when the small plane he was piloting crashed into the sea near Martha’s Vineyard. The crash also claimed the lives of his wife, Carolyn Kennedy, and her sister, Lauren Bessette.
David, the son of Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy, was found dead in a Palm Beach, Fla., hotel room in 1984 after years of struggling with addiction. He was reportedly traumatized by his father’s violent death. His uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, said in a statement that “we all pray that David has finally found the peace that he did not find in life.”
Another of Robert and Ethel’s sons died in a 1998 skiing accident. Michael, an expert skier, was playing a “dangerous” game that combined the alpine sport with football, according to the New York Times.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Edward Kennedy died in 2007; he died in 2009.