Vicki Kennedy is a lawyer and the second wife of late Senator Ted Kennedy. Vicki comes from a prominent family in Louisiana, her Father Edmund Reggie was a judge and banker and her mother Doris Ann Boustany was a Democratic National Committeewoman. Her family acquired most of their wealth from an interest they owned in Bunny Bread baking concern. Vicki is of Lebanese descent, all of her grandparents immigrated to the United States and settled in Louisiana.
Before marrying Ted, Vicki’s family was close to the Kennedy family due to her mom and dad working closely with Ted and John on their political campaigns in Louisiana. Although their families were close, Vicki did not know Ted personally until the two met in 1991. Vicki met Ted during a particularly tumultuous time in his life when the senator was known for his substance abuse and womanizing antics. According to those close to the two, Vicki helped Ted get his life back on track and become an effective Senator again.
Following Ted’s death, Vicki became and continues to be a public figure who tried to carry on his work and legacy.
Ted Kennedy is the topic of the upcoming documentary “The Girl in the Car”. The documentary examines an incident Ted was involved in when he crashed his car in the water off Chappaquiddick Island on the night of July 18, 1969, killing his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She was married and divorced before meeting Ted
Vicki was first married to Grier Raclin, a telecommunications lawyer in D.C. before meeting Ted. The two were married in 1981 with a large, 400 person ceremony at Everett McKinley Dirksen Federal Courthouse. They then moved to D.C. where they had two children, Curran and Caroline.
The couple was divorced in 1990 and Vicki then met Ted in 1992.
2. Her secret engagement to Ted was exposed by Vicki’s daughter sharing the information at school
Ted and Vicki started dating after meeting at the 40th-anniversary dinner she threw for her parents. Following that encounter, they started spending time together at Vicki’s house where Ted would come over for dinner. Vicki was a full-time lawyer and single mother with 2 small children so she was unable to spend a lot of time away from home. Ted came to her house for dinner because it was the only time the two could spend together.
According to Time Magazine, Vicki told Kennedy biographer Adam Clymer, “He called me and said, ‘You’ve got these kids. I know you won’t go out more than a couple of times a week. I really want to see more of you. So I am going to come to dinner at your house.’ ”
Ted proposed during a performance of La Bohème in January 1992 and they agreed to keep their engagement a secret. Unfortunately, Vicki’s daughter told her friend at school whose parent just so happened to be a Washington Post reporter. The reported then broke the story to the press.
3. She’s friends with Ted’s first wife, Joan
Joan Kennedy and Vicki Kennedy were not the best of friends when Ted was alive or when he first died. AS evidenced by their obvious animosity towards each other at Ted’s funeral. The two were kept apart during the funeral service.
According to the Daily Mail, When Joan and Ted’s eldest daughter, Kara, passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack in 2011, a mere 2 years after Ted’s death, Vicki extended an olive branch to offer help. Joan has publicly battled with alcohol abuse and Vicki was reportedly worried that this would drive her to drink again so she reached out to help.
In the wake of tragedy, the tension has disappeared between the two who are now friends.
4. She feuded with her stepsons over the construction of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute
One of Ted Kennedy’s final wishes was to build the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The institute is an interactive museum that features a full-scale replica of the Senate chamber. It’s located right down the street from the JFK Library. The Institute opened in 2016 but was a somewhat tumultuous 7-year construction project.
Back in 2012, Edward M. Kennedy Jr. and Patrick Kennedy, the senator’s children from his first marriage, accused Vicki of mishandling the project and keeping them in the dark on the decisions being made. In an interview with the Boston Globe in 2012, Lee Fentress, a longtime friend of the senator who now chairs the board, told the paper “He treasured her counsel,” adding, “He trusted her judgment and instincts. She was his right hand and partner in the very true sense. . . . The board of the institute unanimously agrees with his judgment of Vicki. She is a tireless and passionate advocate for the institute. We are fortunate to have her.’’
While neither son would make a statement publicly, it broke a longstanding tradition of the Kennedy family airing grievances publicly.
5. Her dad managed John F. Kennedy’s Louisiana Campaign
Vicki Kennedy’s father, Edmund Reggie, helped John F. Kennedy’s Failed Vice Presidential campaign in 1956. He was an instrumental factor in helping JFK secure the state of Louisiana at the Democratic National Convention.
Then in 1960, Edmund co-chaired JFK’s presidential campaign efforts in Louisiana. He was nominated as a presidential elector in Louisiana for the Democratic ticket of John F. Kennedy-Lyndon B. Johnson. After Kennedy was elected, Reggie served the president as liaison with Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis from 1961 until Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.