It is impossible to describe Lisa Ann Kennedy in words alone. One would have to have met her face-to-face to experience her love, acceptance, patience, overall caring, infectious, bright smile and firm backbone. Lisa always believed in the underdog and went to bat for the underprivileged and disabled in her work as a psychiatric nurse, marriage and family therapist, and loyal friend.
Born in Hartford City, Indiana on January 22, 1960, Lisa Ann Ford learned about hard times. She grew up in an already financially-challenged family that welcomed three additional teenage relatives into their home. With her sister, Susan, five female youths and two adults shared a very small three bedroom home with one small bathroom with a tub and no shower.
As a child, Lisa would attend the local Methodist church alone when other family members were unable to attend. She thrived in her faith in God and had many tails of great experiences in her middle and high school youth groups.
When Lisa was a young teen, her mother contracted Huntington’s Chorea, a deadly neurodegenerative disease that slowly robbed her of her ability to move, talk and think normally. Since this disease is largely inherited, Lisa knew there was a fifty percent chance that the disease might take her life and possibly those of her children. Regardless, she chose to marry and have children and was more than relieved to have dodged that bullet.
Though told by her mother, “You should get a job at the local bank as a teller,” Lisa attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN and received a BS in Community Health Education and AD in Nursing. It was at the Covenant Presbyterian Church college youth group in West Lafayette that she met her husband, Reid, with whom she enjoyed forty-one years of courtship and marriage. After graduation and a move to Chicago, Lisa completed a BS degree in Nursing at the University of Illinois.
In the Chicago area, when given a chance to work on a cardiac floor at Loyola Hospital or a psychiatric unit at Madden Mental Health Center, Lisa chose the psychiatric unit hands down as she felt it was at Madden that she could have the greatest positive impact on people’s lives, particularly those who were down on their luck. After five years at Madden Mental Health Center, Lisa focused on raising her family while working part-time in various mental health settings in the Chicago area, including Linden Oaks Hospital, a Christian psychiatric facility in Naperville, IL.
After moving to Wisconsin, Lisa became very involved with the First Presbyterian Church in Chippewa Falls and served as youth group leader and performed other leadership roles. She also became a member of the national organization, PEO, a philanthropic sisterhood that, in part, provides education opportunities to young women. Lisa would often state that the thirteen years in Chippewa Falls were her fondest, raising her children in a family-friendly environment, living only minutes from the church and downtown and developing life-long friendships. While in Chippewa Falls, Lisa began a private practice after receiving her Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Wisconsin in 2005.
Lisa continued her practice in South Carolina after relocating in 2013 and helped numerous families handle autistic and otherwise challenged youth. A few years later she scaled it back to address personal family and health concerns. Lisa suffered from seizure and sleep disorders but she plodded on to stay as involved as possible in family, church and PEO functions. With a lifelong love of music, she sang for a time in the church choir at the First Baptist Church of Inman, SC and absolutely loved to sing annually in a sing-along Messiah of her choosing - one year even traveling to Washington, DC to sing at the Kennedy Center.
Almost miraculously, Lisa’s sleep pattern started to even out in the last few weeks of her life. She seemed more alive than ever with renewed energy and purpose. Even so, Lisa passed away suddenly on October 1, 2021 due to a seizure or stroke.
Lisa is survived by her husband, Reid Allen, sister, Susan Schmidel (Tom), son, Reid James, daughter, Grace Kennedy Moye (Ian), granddaughter, Elise Moye and grandson, Emmett Moye.
A virtual service celebrating Lisa’s life will be held on Saturday, November 6, 2021 at 11:00 am Eastern time.
In lieu of flowers, Donations can be made in Lisa’s name to NAMI (National Mental Health Alliance). Please see bottom of page under Donations to click on link.
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National Mental Health Alliance