Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Wife Mary Kennedy "Was in a Lot of Agony"

Celebrity News May. 18, 2012 AT 2:00PM
Mary Richardson and Robert F Kennedy, Jr at th3 Food Allergy Ball on November 29, 2005 in New York City. Mary Richardson and Robert F Kennedy, Jr at th3 Food Allergy Ball on November 29, 2005 in New York City. Credit: Robin Platzer/FilmMagic

Mary Kennedy's loved ones are grieving the loss of the architect, who committed suicide Wednesday at the age of 52 after a lifelong struggle with depression.

"Mary inspired our family with her kindness, her love, her gentle soul and generous spirit," the Kennedy family said in a statement. "Mary was a genius at friendship, a tremendously gifted architect and a pioneer and relentless advocate of green design who enhanced her cutting edge, energy efficient creations with exquisite taste and style."

Her estranged husband Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.--who filed for divorce from Mary in 2010, after sixteen years of marriage--spoke to The New York Times Thursday about the demons his spouse was battling.

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"A lot of times, I don't know how she made it through the day," Kennedy said of Mary, who struggled with alcoholism and depression. "She was in a lot of agony for a lot of her life."

Kennedy's sister Kerry Kennedy was one of Mary's oldest friends--the two women met as teens at boarding school, and roomed together in college. Kerry brought Mary along on family vacations, where Mary was first introduced to Robert.

"You know, you sometimes hear things like, 'I've lost my right arm?'" Kerry Kennedy told The Times. "I feel like I've lost half my body, half my soul."

"Every member of my family, long before I married her, considered her a Kennedy," Robert said of the important place Mary occupied in their circle.

As her struggles became increasingly public--Mary was arrested twice in 2010 for driving under the influence--those closest to her hope the mother of four is instead remembered for her warmth, generosity, and commitment to social and environmental justice.

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"My sister once asked her to help her find money for earthquake victims in Nicaragua, and Mary got on the phone and cold-called over 200 C.E.O.’s over five days, and I think they got 80 truckloads of supplies to Nicaragua," Kennedy said of his wife, who was active with several nonprofits, including the environmental advocacy group Riverkeeper and the Food Allergy Initiative.

A wake for Mary Kennedy is scheduled to take place Friday; on Saturday, the Kennedy family is expected to gather in Bedford, NY for her funeral services.

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