John “Jackie” Kennedy Sr. (1899 - 1933)
Growing up in central Toledo, Jack Kennedy was a natural athlete and his friends always insisted that he could have been one of Toledo's great high school football players had he not dropped out of Central Catholic to deal cards in the back rooms of his uncles' saloon. By the age of nineteen, Jack settled down, took a job as a clerk and married Winifred Andres. Residing on Walnut Street near Central Catholic, they welcomed the birth of their son, Jack Jr.
Jack Enters the Family Business
With a family to support, Jack returned to the steady money of his uncle's saloon. His easy, outgoing style won him many friends, including police and politicians. If someone in the neighborhood or the officer on the beat needed a favor, they learned to count on Jack.
With his Uncle Charley's help, the Soldiers and Sailors Club located on Superior Street was remodeled and Jack re-opened the plush downtown nightclub as the Studio Club. The Studio Club catered to socialites, politicians, businessmen, and newspaper columnists and Jack quickly became a popular "man about town." At the same time Jack was building up his club business during prohibition, he was also shipping illegal beer in secretl containers to save shipping costs. Unfortunatley, the success of Jack's new business enterprise cost him his marriage.
Kennedy Stands Defiant
Jack Kennedy never backed down from a fight and when the Licavoli gang came to town in 1931, he openly defied them. The story of his beatdown of one of the gang is well-known. Just six months after Licavoli's men had machine gunned his girlfriend, Louise Bell, as she and Jack sat in his car at a downtown intersection after leaving a movie theatre, Jack avenged her death with his bare fists. Cruising by the gang's operation on Monroe and Michigan with two companions, Jack spotted John Mirabella and several other gangsters standing on the sidewalk. Rumor has it that someone from the gang made an obscene gesture as Jack drove by. He stopped his car, leaped out of the driver's seat, ran up to Mirablla and knocked him to the ground with a single blow to the jaw. After handing out a few more licks, Jack jumped back in his car and sped from the scene followed by a hail of bullets. When he returned to his club, a close examination of his car showed three bullets holes.
Jack's beating of Mirabella in front of the Licavoli operation struck a blow for the entire gang and some say it made them look weak. Revenues fell off and soon only Jack's death could restore their reputation. Nothing could save him except leaving town and that just wasn't his style. After this incident, whenever he left his club he was accompanied by Ken "Pumpkins" Francis, not as a bodyguard, but to watch his back and be a witness.
The Kennedy Murder in Point Place
In late June of 1933, Kennedy found what he thought would be a suitable safe place for him and his new girlfriend, Audrey Ralls. It was a cottage in Point Place. On July 6th, Kennedy chased a suspicious car away suggesting Yonnie Licavoli had found his hide out. The next day, Jack didn't seem concerned when he heard Yonnie was seen driving along nearby Bay View Golf Club. In fact, he joked, "Maybe he is looking for a job as a caddie."
At around 9:40 pm on July 7, 1933, leaving "Pumpkins" and his gun behind, Jack and Louise walked to the store for a fresh bottle of milk. Along the way, a maroon-colored Ford stopped and two men got out of the car and started walking after Jack and Audrey while the third followed slowly along in the car. Upon reaching the couple, the two men threw the girl aside and shot Jack. One witness described the scene this way, " I heard five or six shots, perhaps eight. I tried to keep from looking but I couldn't help myself. Ohhhh they held their guns so close to his head ..... and kept shooting."
Jack Kennedy had defied the Licavoli gang for the last time.