Time & Eternity: Jack Kennedy '68

KennedyJack Kennedy ’68 grew up in Oak Lawn, the oldest of five siblings all of whom attended grammar school and were parishioners at St. Linus. The decision to attend Marist High School was based in large part to a best friend that started there the year prior.  If it was good enough for Jerry, it was good enough for Jack — and it certainly helped that this was a brand new school not all that far away.

Jack was active as a class officer in his time at Marist and beginning his freshman year joined the cross country team. Many of the friendships that developed while at Marist came about from the camaraderie of being part of this group of young men.

According to Jack, “the quality of education and the dedication offered by the Marist Brothers, with some firmness added for good measure, was a perfect fit for a southwest side Catholic who was a little on the shy side.”

The decision to attend DePaul University following graduation came about with guidance from counselor and Spanish teacher Jim Sears.  A combination of liberal arts and psychology was his course of study but it was his extra-curricular activities that more accurately set Jack on the path he would follow.

Jack’s involvement as class president during his time at DePaul helped him land his first job after graduation working in admissions for a small Catholic college in San Antonio, Texas. “After working in many different fields, I discovered real estate and never looked back,” Jack said.  “For a short time I worked in the residential field on the north side of Chicago, but I eventually transitioned to commercial real estate.” 

It was during the snow storm of 1978 – with schools and businesses closed – that Jack met the woman he would eventually marry, Maryanne Carels.  In 1981, they wed and shortly thereafter moved to Lincoln Park and eventually had two kids, Kelsi and John. Kelsi is recently married and living in Vienna, Austria while John is in graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle studying environmental policy.

But, back in 1982, Jack formed the ChrisKen Group, a comprehensive and fully integrated multifamily real estate company.  The firm then and now specializes in acquiring multifamily properties around the country, upgrading them as well as managing them.  Over the years and based on the economic climate, the company has grown as well as downsized, but, over 35 years, has survived.

“Like most everyone from the class of ’68, Maryanne and I are finally empty nesters,” Jack said.  “We’re looking forward to figuring out what is next.”