PAXTON, Mass. — Kenneth J. Moynihan, respected historian, columnist, and author, died on January 10, 2014 in the arms of his loving wife with family and his friends at his bedside. Although he lived with Parkinson's disease for fourteen years he showed glimpses of his keen intellect and sense of humor even as the disease progressed.
He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Mary Jo (Brennan Nadeau) and daughters, Connie Nadeau and partner Eric DeCoster, Mary Beth and husband Adrian LaVoie, and Jolayne Nadeau. He is also survived by granddaughter, Brennan LaVoie and grandson, Conrad LaVoie and was predeceased by his granddaughter, Jolayne Nadeau (Little Jo) who he called his "hero". He was also predeceased by his older brother, Jack and is survived by his brothers, Bob and wife Mary, Wayne and wife Claudette, Dan and wife Debbie, Paul and wife Dona Lynn, Mark and Patrick, his sister Ann Theroux and his sister-in-law Diane Krafton.
Ken was the son of John and Claire (O'Connell) Moynihan. He was born July 27, 1944 and was raised in Belmont, N.H. He attended Sacred Heart School in Laconia, N.H. and then at the age fourteen he entered Assumption Prep School in Worcester, Mass. After graduating from Assumption Prep, he attended The College of the Holy Cross where he studied history, edited the school paper, and developed his love of politics. After graduating, he attended Clark University, earning a Ph.D. in History in 1972.
Ken began his academic career at Assumption College where he taught history, including a popular course in African-American History. He wrote two books, The History of Assumption College and A History of Worcester 1674-1848. He founded the Worcester History Group and was a fellow at the Worcester Antiquarian Society. Ken was at Assumption College for over 30 years, serving as the chair of the History Department for 20 years. He was awarded the President's Medal when he retired.
Ken loved politics. He was active in the Massachusetts Democratic Party, supporting and advising candidates at the state and local levels. He was most proud to be a George McGovern delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He was also involved in non-partisan politics in the Worcester area. Ken chaired the Citizen's Plan E Association, overseeing their candidate process and regularly attending Worcester City Council meetings.
Ken was a successful newspaper columnist for Worcester Magazine and later the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. He wrote thoughtful, honest and occasionally tough commentary, prompting one local judge to call him "the conscience of Worcester County".
The love of his life was his wife Mary Jo. Their home in Paxton, Mass. was a "perpetual open house" where they hosted family, friends, and students. Mary Jo cooked while Ken led lively discussions and played the piano. Ken was a gentleman farmer, caring for animals large and small and a gardener extraordinaire.
In keeping with Ken's generous spirit the family has donated his body to the UMass Medical School for research and education.
A memorial service was held at the Holy Spirit Chapel at Assumption College, Worcester, MA on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Grand Central Station, and PO Box 4777, NY, NY 10163-47777