Kennedy Abell, Leonardtown Luminary, Dies



Kennedy Abell, one of the longest serving members of the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department and an unofficial keeper of a portion of the town's history. Kennedy Abell, one of the longest serving members of the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department and an unofficial keeper of a portion of the town's history.

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Feb. 17, 2022)—One of the longest serving members of the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department and an unofficial keeper of a portion of the town's history—Kennedy Abell—has died. He was 93.

Abell was well known in town for his membership in the fire department as well as in many other local organizations which supported the larger community.

Abell lived in Leonardtown all his life and remembered the stark contrast between life before the coming of broad prosperity to St. Mary's County and afterwards.

"Times were tough, Abell said in 2018 when he was interviewed by The County Times. "There wasn't a lot of money and food was hard to come by."

He and his family, three siblings and his mother and father, had to work hard to make ends meet. His father was cashier at First National Bank of St. Mary's on the town square and his family would eventually come to own and operate the Hotel St. Mary's but life could still be a struggle.

"We all saved money for Christmas just to able to buy something for ourselves," Abell said. "My mother was a great cook and she made cakes to earn a little extra money for Christmas.

"So we had about 15 cakes around the house that we couldn't eat but it was income."

Very few people had money in St. Mary's County at the time to have a large and prosperous Christmas celebration, Abell said.

But then, things turned around for his hometown when the Navy built Patuxent River Naval Air Station in 1943.

Abell was an artist and committed a significant amount of his memory of Leonardtown to pencil sketches and other drawings of life around town in his youth.

He also put those drawings on the social media site YouTube complete with commentary on what they represented; many of the drawings depicted life from the 1930s and 1940s.

According to a statement from the Leonardtown company, Abell "recently celebrated his 77th year as a member of the department and over his many years of service held all leadership and operational position in the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department."

"He served as president of the Southern Maryland Volunteer Firemen's Association (SMVFA) in 1960 and was inducted into SMVFA Hall of Fame in 1987," the statement continued.

"He attended the Maryland State Firemen's Association every year since 1949 and always looked forward to Ocean City Convention. On October 12, 2020, the department dedicated "Squad 1" a 2017 Seagrave Marauder Rescue Squad in his name. A regular at visiting the station, he will be greatly missed and his dedication to the fire service will never be forgotten."

For more local stories from the County Times newspapers, visit countytimes.somd.com or find a copy on local news stands.

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