NIU student activist killed in car accident

By Lisa Ferro

Tom Kennedy spent his years at NIU as a student activist and fought to make people aware of the welfare of animals and recycling.

But his activism no longer will be seen on campus.

Kennedy, 25, died last Tuesday from injuries suffered in an automobile accident.

He was southbound on Rt. 23 about two-tenths of a mile south of Shabbona Grove Road at about 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department.

His car slid sideways on ice into the northbound lane and was struck on the passenger side, police said. Kennedy was pronounced dead at the scene by DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller.

Leland resident Barbara Boga, the passenger of the northbound car, suffered injuries in the accident, police said.

Kennedy was a graduate in the process of getting his teacher’s certification at NIU. He wanted someday to teach junior high school students.

At the time of the accident, he was headed for Sandwich, Ill., to observe a classroom situation.

Kennedy was an active member of Student Committee for Animal Welfare and also worked at the Student Association Recycling Center.

SCAW President Tracy Wood said Kennedy always did the cooking for their socials. Kennedy’s friends said he loved to cook and to play the guitar.

SA Recycling Director Rachel Vallenga said Kennedy also helped to do recycling presentations for area grade schools.

“He was a caring person and would do anything for anyone,” Vallenga said. “He was always willing to help out.”

Christopher Smith, Kennedy’s roommate, said Kennedy revamped the process of loading and recycling newspapers at the recycling center.

Kennedy’s friends are trying to get the name of the recycling center changed to the Kennedy Recycling Center.

“If you were to describe the nicest person you could think of, it would definitely be Tom,” said NIU alumnus and former SA Recycling Director Dave Broustis, who knew Kennedy for about five years.

Kennedy also was active in animal welfare causes. He always would drive to distant protests in Washington, D.C., and Minnesota, Vallenga said.

As part of Kennedy’s local activism, he once sat inside a crate to protest the method used for housing young cows for veal.