Jerilyn Jones Kennedy, director of underwriting for Indiana University's public television station, WTIU, and, as such, a member of the University's professional staff, died June 24, 1999, at the age of 57.
The daughter of the late Robert A. and Jeanne (Spitler) Kennedy, she was a native Hoosier. She was educated in the public schools of Flora, in Carroll County, before the days of mandated school consolidations. In her small high school, her teachers identified her potential, especially in the area of speech, and cultivated her talents. They encouraged her to enroll at Indiana University in Bloomington, rather than at the university in nearby West Lafayette. She was a part of the Hoosier tradition of small towns sending their "best and brightest" to IU.
On the Bloomington campus in the early 1960s, she pursued the traditional campus life, even as non-traditional forces started to surface. She became a member and eventually an officer of the IU chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma women's fraternity. That affiliation started friendships that were an essential part of her being the rest of her life. She participated fully in campus life and campus organizations. As she intended, she pursued an academic program in Speech and Theatre, which allowed her to take a wide range of courses in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her presentation talents continued to grow and complement her natural physical attributes and outgoing personality to make her a classic "beauty queen." She was the 1961 Indianapolis Flower and Patio Show Queen and the 1962 Indianapolis 500 Festival Queen, which made her one of the first to hold that title. She had a distinctive name, and she was a distinctive young woman.
In the late 1960s, Jerilyn Kennedy continued down the traditional path. She married, worked at the IU Foundation while her husband attended Law School, completed her IU degree, and then started a family. Her two sons--Jason and Jeffrey--their development, their activities, and their achievements were to be her pride and joy. She took special pleasure from the fact that Indiana University eventually became a part of their lives, too.
By the late 1970s, she began her career in media sales when she became the first female radio sales representative in Bloomington at WTTS/WGTC (WGCL). In 1989 she moved to University Broadcasting (WBWB) as its first general sales manager, and later served as the assistant general manager. It was to be a career that drew on the strengths of her education and her personality. And along the way, she helped build the economic vitality of the community. Her one-woman sales initiative in Bloomington-one business at a time and one commercial at a time-may be one of the unrecognized local economic development accomplishments of the 80s and 90s. She helped local businesses generate a lot of sales and a lot of revenue--and expand their commercial activities. The copy that Jerilyn wrote and often recorded in her distinctive, friendly voice was a part of the sound of Bloomington for many years.
In the mid-1990s, Jerilyn Kennedy was able to combine two of her loves-sales and Indiana University. She brought her sales talents, imagination, and "can do" attitude to the University's broadcasting entities-particularly to the PBS station, WTIU--at a time when federal funding, viewer contributions, and University funding could not keep pace with increasing costs. As WTIU's underwriting director, she quickly convinced local businesses and professionals that they could benefit from their association with the station through on-air messages and partnerships in WTIU's community activities. Her underwriting sales helped stabilize the station financially so it could continue to serve the community effectively.
Her personal involvement in the community kept pace with her professional growth in her career. She was co-founder of the Bloomington Press Club, and she was active with the Monroe County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Beautify Bloomington Campaign, Leadership Bloomington/Monroe County, and American Business Women's Association. At IU, she served on the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Council and on the Bloomington campus Professional Council, and she participated in Indiana University's Women's Mentor Program and Hoosiers for Higher Education. She also filled numerous alumnae offices in Kappa Kappa Gamma, and was a member of Tri Kappa philanthropic sorority.
Though her time on earth was cut short, she used it well to enrich the community and the lives of those around her. She brought to our activities within the academic community a perspective developed through her years in the business world and taught us a different way of thinking. We are proud to honor her as our colleague and friend.
This resolution is part of the minutes of the Professional Council. Copies shall be sent by the President of the University to her sons, Jason and Jeffrey.
Suzann M. Owen