Skip to comments.Bio: Mary Jo Kopechne
Posted on 08/29/2009 3:09:07 PM PDT by ETL
Birth: Jul. 26, 1940
Death: Jul. 19, 1969
Teacher and Administrator, she is most remembered for her controversial death in an automobile accident with Senator Edward Kennedy; the resulting political scandal caused Kennedy to reverse his decision to run for the US Presidency. Born in Forty Fort, Pennsylvania, she was the only child of insurance salesman Joseph and Gwen Kopechne. After graduating from Caldwell College, New Jersey, she taught at Montgomery Catholic High School in Montgomery, Alabama, and then moved to Washington DC to work as a secretary for Florida Senator George Smathers. Shortly afterwards, she went to work as a secretary for New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy following his election in 1964. After Senator Robert F. Kennedy's death in 1968, she moved to Matt Reese Associates, a Washington DC firm that helped politicians establish campaign headquarters, and it was there she met Senator Edward Kennedy, Robert Kennedy's younger brother.
On the evening of July 18, 1969, she attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island, near Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, in honor of the "Boiler Room Girls," a name given to the six young women who had helped the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy during his presidential campaign, and who had closed up his files after his assassination in June 1968. All six of the women were single, and the six men in attendance were all married but present without their wives, and the attendees gathered for a late night party at the Lawrence Cottage, rented by Joe Gargan for the occasion.
Late that evening (the exact time is in dispute), Kennedy offered to drive Kopechne back to her hotel at the Katama Shores Motor Inn in Edgartown, and later claimed that he mistakenly took a wrong, right turn onto Dyke Road, a dirt road leading to a beach about a mile down the road, instead of turning left onto the paved Chappaquiddick Road leading to the ferryboat which they would need to use to go to Kopechne's motel.
A half-mile down Dyke Road, Kennedy drove off the side of the Dyke Bridge, and the car overturned into Poucha Pond. Kennedy got out of the overturned car, but Kopechne failed to exit the car and died. Kopechne's body was recovered later that morning; the diver reporting that Kopechne had positioned herself near the back seat wheel well where an air pocket had formed, and had apparently suffocated rather than drowned. Her parents ruled out an autopsy, so the cause of death was never officially determined.
Senator Kennedy later pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury, for which he received a two-month suspended sentence and one year probation. Kopechne's death and Kennedy's failure to properly deal with the accident, along with numerous discrepancies in his account of what happened, damaged his reputation and is regarded by many as the major reason that he decided to cancel his run for the presidency in 1972 and subsequent years.
Kopechne's funeral was held on July 22, 1969, at St. Vincent's Roman Catholic Church in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, and she was buried in the parish cemetery there.
(bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)
Saint Vincents Cemetery
The new family tombstone, erected after the death of Mary Jo's mother in December, 2007.
Added by: Geoff Wilson, 9/04/2008
August 28, 2009
"Edward Klein, speaking to WAMU guest host Katty Kay, said one of Kennedy's 'favorite topics of humor was, indeed, Chappaquiddick.'
"He would ask people, 'Have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?' said Klein, a former Newsweek foreign editor and former editor in chief of the New York Times Magazine."
YouTube video: Kennedy liked to joke about Chappaquiddick?
"This isn't an accusation from Ted Kennedy's political opponents, but a nostalgic remembrance by one of his friends. Ed Klein, former Newsweek editor, tells the Diane Rehm Show:
"I dont know if you know this or not, but one of his favorite topics of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick itself. And he would ask people, have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick? That is just the most amazing thing. Its not that he didnt feel remorse about the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, but that he still always saw the other side of everything and the ridiculous side of things, too."
I mentioned Mary Jo to my 27 and 30 year old sons. They were completely clueless. Never knew about what Kennedy did. I just assumed they did...I was shocked.
Most likely at the gates of the other place.
What does that even mean?
Interesting that she worked for Senator Smathers who was very conservative then for Robert Kennedy who was really liberal.
Click here for an audio of
John Farrar, the scuba diver who discovered Mary Jo Kopechne's body, discusses the body, the political whitewash and the cover-up on the Howie Carr show.
Mary Jo's funeral:
Mr. and Mrs. Kopechne:
Click here to go to The Official Fatboy Ted Website, a large compendium of information about the incident at Chappaquiddick.
Thanks for the pics and link to a much more detailed account of the incident.
Smathers was VERY close with JFK and the Kennedy's.
You are the linkmeister extraordinaire....
The joke was, there was a bridge into heaven and a ‘68 Oldsmobile pulled up to take him across...ooops
And I’ve always seen the ridiculous side of Edward Kennedy!
I don’t wish to be unjust to pigs, but Ted Kennedy was a swine. Mary Jo could have lived if that sociopath had just knocked on a few doors. Dizgusting.
Nope. He didn't get anywhere near those pearly gates.
Maybe at the gates of hell though.
Someone said on the Howie Carr show that someone erected a “Remember Mary Jo” banner recently but it got taken down...?