Bob was a great friend and a true fitness icon. He spread the gospel of health around the globe, and his impact can’t be measured. I will miss Bob, but there is no question that his legacy of a fitter and healthier world will live on.
Bob Kennedy was among the all-time great leaders and publishers in the sport of bodybuilding and fitness. He loved the sport and everyone in the sport loved him. We were privileged to recognize his wide-ranging Lifetime Achievement at this year’s Arnold Sports Festival. He was revered and will always be remembered as the caring and great man he was.
Having known Bob Kennedy for 57-plus interesting and, for the most part, exciting years, I find the task of encompassing what he meant to me, or, in fact, what we meant to each their, impossible. There’s not enough time, space, motivation or reason. Suffice to say Bob displayed throughout his life two most endearing qualities: the ability to inject everyone who knew him with a sense that life if for living, and charisma enough for 10 men. From hair tip to toenail Bob’s personality shouted loud and clear, “Don’t be afraid — give it your best shot.” His positive influence was enough to coax the faintest of hearts into renewed belief in themselves. He virtually (at times, literally) created personalities and success for others. Not only did he instill courage enough in those he met to pursue goals they’d only dreamed of achieving, but he’d also help them in every way he could to make those dreams come true. What’s more, the unstoppable instinct he had to assist others never floundered even when, on occasion, those who accepted his help robbed him of money and abused his willingness to believe in them.
Other than MuscleMag, there’s hardly a physique photographer, model, artist, writer or illustrator, along with more than a few established bodybuilders whose careers haven’t benefited from Bob’s influence. He was that kind of guy. If he liked you, you’d likely be offered the Kennedy treatment to nourish your self-confidence and spur you on to self-improvement. You’d only to approach him with sincerity to have him respond in kind. The money generated for themselves by those who took either Bob’s advice or offer of employment is staggering.
Will I miss him? Does a desert miss the rain? Try bonding with a soulmate at age 16 and sharing 10,001 experiences with him (by far the most of them good) for close to six decades. No wonder I’m lost for words. Bob was (no, is my surrogate twin). I lost my biological twin at six months of age. To me Bob will never die. I can’t afford to let him go.
— Johnny Fitness
Bob was always there supporting Wayne and I from our First Night of the champions Pro show in 1976 until our last. Bob had so many talents and contributed so much to the sport of Bodybuilding. I will always remember his wonderful smile.
40 years have lumbered by since Bob Kennedy and I connected and I visited his home gym in Canada. MuscleMag International was a pup at the time. Good memories. Bob was an honest, generous and kind guy. His passing reminds me—us—how precious life is. He invited me to his cottage in wooded Ontario where I met his team when his mag was a fledgling. I had hair raging from beneath a headband and wore a tie-dyed tank top to match my eyes. We trained in his home gym, ate steaks at his dinner table, chased his dog through the forest and gazed upon Niagara Falls as water thundered across her shoulders. Thanks, Bob. See you in NYC, see you in LA, see you in Columbus. See you. He died last Thursday evening at his home in Ontario. Bob dared to enter the flourishing yet dominated muscle world in the mid-’70s with his energetic and colorful MMI interpretation. The reasons are simple: Bob loved the stuff of muscles as do you and I. He wanted to express himself and broadcast energy, health and fitness to those who’d listen, make a few friends, have a few laughs and earn a few bucks along the way. And he did just that with grace and aplomb.
Another sad day in the bodybuilding world: the passing of Robert Kennedy. Bob was a true pioneer in our sport and his dedication and support to the IFBB will be truly missed. My deepest condolences to his family on their loss.
I would like to thank you, as you probably stand spiritually looking down upon us from wherever, in a hands-on-hips semi-relaxed pose for enhancing, instructing me, and developing my personal career such as it unfolded. Please give my regards to Bill, Steve, Serge, Peary, John and Ben. We miss them all.
When I first met Bob in 1977 I thought he was the nicest of all the bodybuilding magazine publishers that I knew. Over all these years I’ve had no reason to change that opinion. No matter how busy he must have been, he never failed to respond personally to my many snail mails. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten.
—Doris Barrilleaux, “The First Lady of Bodybuilding”
Bobby Kennedy, for decades was a far-forward thinking, innovative, sometimes brazen and very well respected publisher in the bodybuilding and fitness space, who was fearless in his approach for blazing new arenas. He was always jovial and very positive and charismatic in his interactions with those in the field and encouraged countless athletes.
—Dr. Bob Goldman
Bob Kennedy was a warm and caring guy who loved bodybuilding. Every time he would visit Southern California, he would call me and we would get together. His ready smile and quick wit were always present. He was a fun guy to be around. I will miss him.
Bob was a great man, friendly to everybody, and never said anything bad or negative. He will be missed by the millions who loved him.
I knew Bob Kennedy since the 1970s and appreciate what he’s done for publicizing bodybuilding with his magazines. His artistic talents were reflected in the quality publications he produced. He provided a forum for my type of physique, and I am grateful to him. Bob will be missed.
Losing a close friend is never easy! My relationship with Bob Kennedy spans over 30 years. His passing has opened a floodgate of fond memories! What made Bob so special was his passion for bodybuilding and life in general. Bob never left anything on the table and celebrated every minute. I will always remember the knowing twinkle in his eye and the mischievous little smile. I will be forever grateful to Bob as he was responsible for giving me my first break in the fitness industry. I will miss him greatly.
Bob Kennedy and I met many years ago and hit it off straight away. He always had the ability to make people feel good with his wonderful sense of humor and happy-go-lucky personality. Over the years we kept in touch mostly by phone calls or e-mail, and talking to Bob was always an hour or so of nonstop laughter, especially due to the zany British sense of humor that sometimes only Bob and I understood! He was an enormously successful writer, photographer, artist and businessman. I never heard or read any criticism leveled at Bob; all his peers loved and respected him, just as I did. Insiders who were close to him knew what a generous person he was. In his later years Bob suffered some personal family tragedies that would have brought most men to their knees, but he took the blows and soldiered on. Bob, rest in peace my friend. I will miss you.
Bob was a wonderful supporter of the bodybuilding industry and helped contribute so much to the sport. He will be missed and we hope his magazine will continue in the spirit he has run it for so long.
—Joe and Betty Weider
Bob Kennedy was defined by his passion for bodybuilding and his never-ending quest to give his readers the best information to transform their dreams of muscle, strength and health into reality. Bob’s passion made him a lifelong evangelist for his beliefs of the value of nutrition and exercise. Bob’s legacy is the millions of people he helped to achieve their dreams. He was a man of character and passion, a friend I will always remember.
I will be eternally grateful for the friendship that Bob showed me in our near 30-year relationship. He opened doors for me early in my career and was always supportive and full of advice from day one. The first article I ever had published in a North American magazine was a 1984 issue of MuscleMag. Eventually I came to learn that he has mentored and encouraged countless individuals in this industry over the years. He did this unbidden—his reward the satisfaction that his input was productive.
As a gifted artist he had a true passion for bodybuilding in its classic and aesthetic form and was disappointed when mass for mass’s sake became the vogue. But the one aspect that will always stand out for me is his easy-going nature and sense of fun. Even when engaged in a heavy discussion about business or the sport he would, with a twinkle in his mischievous eye, pepper the dialogue with witticisms.
Two weeks before he passed, he sent me a letter in which he spoke warmly of our “many years as friends,” and he signed off with, “I wish you good luck, health and happiness from the bottom of my heart. Your beautiful wife, too. Regards always, Your friend Bob Kennedy.”
He knew he had a short time left, but the fact that he could write such a letter given his circumstances tells you everything you need to know about the man and his character. As news of the severity of his illness became known, the whole bodybuilding community grieved, which is a tribute to the warmth and affection we all had for him. Bob Kennedy taught us how to live, but in how he faced his final days with unfailing courage he also taught us how to die. Goodbye my friend. We’ll never see your like again.
When I was the head judge of the IFBB professional division, Bob would continually go out of his way to acknowledge that although a judge’s job was a thankless task, he recognized and respected my objectivity. Though we spoke infrequently, he was a constant source of support. I will also remember him for introducing pre-exhaustion training, performing a single-joint movement followed immediately by a compound movement (i.e., lateral raise immediately followed by overhead press), a safe, result-stimulating protocol. Bob will be remembered by all of us who knew and respected him.
Bob Kennedy was a wonderful man. I never saw him angry or mad, never heard him say a bad word about anyone. He was also very supportive. I never had to ask Bob for help with NOC or the Olympia Weekend because he would always offer everything before I could say a word. I am very sad because I have lost a good friend.
—Wayne S. DeMilia
From Terry Todd
A few days after the recent Arnold Sports Festival four of us from the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports—David Webster, John Fair, Jan Todd, and I sent a joint letter to Bob Kennedy expressing our gratitude for his many years of leadership in the iron game community. We were by that time aware, as were many other friends of his, that Bob was gravely ill. We four spoke about it several times during the Sports Festival and we continued to do so once we returned to our work here at the Center. Finally, we decided to send a letter to Bob and to tell him in so many words that we loved him. That letter is below.
We were all very sorry that you couldn’t make it to the Arnold Sports Festival this year. You were missed, as I’m sure you know, and we four wanted to write to you and to send along our best. We also wanted you to know that you’re very much in our thoughts and that we’ve spoken to a number of other people who feel just as we do.
We’re also sorry that we missed Tosca on the first day of the event, although we share the general opinion that her acceptance of your well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award at “The Arnold” was handled with real dignity and style. Bob, over the years your name has become one that every real enthusiast and student of the game knows and respects. All too often we don’t express such sentiments to our friends and fellow iron gamers as often as we should, but one reason for this letter is to say as clearly as we can that folks in our circle who know you either personally or through careful reading of your publications view you with genuine admiration.
Please consider this letter a heartfelt expression of deep gratitude and affection from four of your long-time American and Scottish friends who–in the fullest sense of the term—wish you well.
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