City Directories and History: 1917 – W.H. Brice, 1936 – John M. Blackmon, 1963 – William M. White
Dixie Oil Company was listed at #119 East White Street in 1926.
WILLIAM MEEK KENNEDY – City Manager 1950-1964
Written and contributed to R&R by P.M. Gettys, 2015
William Meek Kennedy was born on December 8, 1907 in Chester, South Carolina. His father, Dr. William M. Kennedy, was a dentist. His mother was the former Nina Carlisle. While he was a young boy, the family moved to York, where his father continued to practice dentistry. William, who was the oldest child, had a younger brother and two sisters.
Bill finished the public schools in York, then attended and graduated from Erskine College. Over the years, he undertook further studies at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Georgia. Shortly after completing his college degree, Bill came to Rock Hill to teach at Rock Hill High School. In 1930, he was a single man renting a room in the household of Harry and Inez Ruff at 315 College Avenue. The next year, he married Mary Jamison Hutchison. She was the daughter of William Lee Hutchison and Mary Daisy Wilson Hutchison of Gaston County, North Carolina. Mary was also a graduate of Erskine College.
The couple settled into a rented home at 330 Marion Street. In 1932, their only child, Mary Evelyn, was born. Later they moved to 803 Eden Terrace. By 1940, Bill had become principal of Northside Elementary School.
After the completion of the school year in 1942, a position as chemist became available with the City of Rock Hill when J. D. Lesslie resigned to work for Springs Cotton Mills. City Manager Rauch recommended Kennedy for the position, and Council approved. He began work for the City at a salary of $150.00 per month. This would begin an association with the city that would last over twenty years. Within two years, Kennedy was named Superintendent of the Water and Light Plant after the death of the previous Superintendent, J. M. Garrison. Kennedy continued in his duties as chemist, and received a raise of $30.00 per month plus a car allowance. His career with the city continued to progress when in 1946, upon recommendation from Mayor Carothers and City Manager Rauch, he was named Assistant City Manager and Superintendent of the Water and Light Plant. This position carried an annual salary of $4,500 and a car allowance. It had become known that Kennedy had received an attractive offer from a local business, and the Mayor and City Manager did not want to lose his services.
In 1947, City Manager J. J. Rauch resigned. In a council meeting, the Mayor asked Kennedy if he would be willing to assume the position of City Manager. “Mr. Kennedy asked that the council not consider him as a successor to Mr. Rauch but offered to give any temporary help that he would be able to render until the Council is ready to make a permanent appointment.” He served as Acting City Manager from April 1947 until he resigned the position in April 1948. He cited the tremendous strain the heavy load of work was placing on him, due to the large expansion program in the water system and the duties as Acting City Manager. Upon his resignation, the city hired Frank A. Jacocks as City Manager. Kennedy accepted a position with the Craig and Company, a wholesale grocery business in Rock Hill. He held this position for two years, at which time he was persuaded to return to the city. When the current Superintendent of the Water and Light Department, Brent Quinn, resigned, City Manager Jacocks recommended that Kennedy be rehired for his old position. This was done by City County in April 1950, when they named Kennedy Assistant City Manager and Superintendent at a salary of $6,000. Within six months, Mr. Jacocks had left the City, and Kennedy again became Acting City Manager on October 1, 1950. In December, Mayor Albright and Council finally persuaded Kennedy to accept the position of City Manager. “Mayor Albright told Mr. Kennedy that he and the entire Council were so well pleased with the satisfactory manner in which he had handled the City’s affairs as Acting City Manager since October 1, 1950, that they were unanimous in requesting him to accept the post as City Manager at a salary of $8,000, effective January 1, 1951.”
Bill Kennedy was uniquely qualified to serve in the capacity, since he had been involved in a number of levels with the City government and had served twice as Acting City Manager. At the first council meeting he attended as City Manager, Kennedy was instructed to proceed with the plans for the establishment of a city garage, a project which had been discussed but not implemented. He began working on a budget for 1951, which had also been delayed due to the transition in leadership. The proposed budget of $1,663,560 represented an increase of about 12% from the previous year due to pay raises and utility extension expenses, but there was no need for a tax increase. The local economy was expanding, and the post-World War II expansion was continuing. The population growth of the city led to demands for expanded water and sewer systems. Kennedy, who had overseen the utility work of the City for years, was well-equipped to work on these expansions and on improved water and sewer treatment facilities. In 1956, he served as President of the South Carolina City Managers Association.
Since his arrival in Rock Hill, Kennedy had become active in the civic life of the community. In the 1930s, he was President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and was named their Man of the Year. He served leadership positions in a number of community organizations, including the Rotary Club, Boy Scouts, United Way, and the YMCA. He was a member of the York County Board of Education. As a Mason, he served as Master of Lodge 111 and chaired the committee to build the lodge’s new temple. Kennedy was also active in his church, First Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP). He served as an elder and worked in the establishment of two new churches, Rogers Memorial ARP in Rock Hill and Pinecrest ARP in Flat Rock, N. C. He served as Treasurer of the General Synod of his denomination from 1972 to 1985.
Mary Kennedy was an active member in the church as well, serving in the Women of the Church in various capacities and teaching Sunday School for 35 years. She taught school at Central Elementary for 25 years.
As City Manager, Kennedy took part in a number of improvement projects. By the late 1950s, the city garage had proved to be insufficient. The major expansion of the facilities on Columbia Avenue was begun, and over a few years, the Rock Hill Public Works Center was completed in 1960. Also in the late 1950s, the proposed creation of the Bowater Paper mill (now Resolute Forest Products) in nearby Catawba was a major economic development investment. In order for the downstream mill to be approved by state regulators, the City and other industries were required to improve the quality of their water discharges. Kennedy worked diligently to coordinate the treatment systems improvements.
At the end of 1964, Kennedy submitted his resignation as City Manager, having served in that position for thirteen years and in various positions with the City for over twenty years. He became Finance Officer and purchasing Agent for the City after his successor Max Holland took office. Later, he accepted a position with the engineering firm Wiedeman and Singleton as a consultant. He and Mary had maintained a vacation home at Bonclarken, the church conference center at Flat Rock, N. C., and they enjoyed retreating to the mountains while maintaining their home in Rock Hill on Eden Terrace.
William Meek Kennedy passed away on March 4, 1996. Mary Kennedy lived to the age of 99, passing away on March 12, 2007. The Kennedys are buried at Forest Hills Cemetery in Rock Hill. They were survived by their daughter, Mary Evelyn Lewis and three grandchildren.
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 Family information from the U. S. Census, 1910 and 1920.
 Rock Hill Herald, March 6, 1996.
 U. S. Census, 1930.
 U. S. Census, 1940.
 Rock Hill City Council Minutes, June 9, 1942.
 Rock Hill City Council Minutes, December 21, 1944.
 Rock Hill City Council Minutes, May 31, 1946.
 Rock Hill City Council Minutes, April 15, 1947.
 Letter from W. M. Kennedy to City Council, April 14, 1948.
 Rock Hill Herald, May 1, 1950.
 Rock Hill City Council Minutes, April 24, 1950.
 Rock Hill City Council Minutes, December 22, 1950.
 Rock Hill Herald, January 9, 1951.
 Rock Hill Herald, February 13, 1951.
 Rock Hill Herald, January 21, 1965.
 Rock Hill Herald, March 6, 1996.
 Rock Hill Herald, March 13, 2007.
 Rock Hill Herald, July 10, 1960.
 Rock Hill Herald, January 21, 1965.
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