William Carey University president dies at 64

Published 5:02 pm Friday, September 22, 2006

William Carey University President Larry Wells Kennedy, diagnosed in January with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, died Thursday. He was 64.

Kennedy became president in 1998 and is credited with erasing the university’s $7.5 million debt while simultaneously launching its first new building projects in years.

William Carey is a 100-year-old Baptist college with campuses in Hattiesburg, Gulfport and New Orleans. The school switched its name from college to university earlier this year.

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Director of Facilities Robert Blevins said Kennedy’s ambition to improve William Carey’s appearance was undergirded by his profound concern for students.

“He and I spent hours combing the campus, walking, discussing what we see, what we don’t see, what we need, the safety and security — every aspect you can think of,” Blevins said. “It was all about the students — were they safe, were they comfortable.”

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday in Smith Auditorium in the Thomas Fine Arts Center.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The disease causes a break in the communication between the muscles and the brain. It claimed the life of New York Yankees’ first baseman Lou Gehrig in 1941.

On the Net:

William Carey University: http://www.wmcarey.edu