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Family, friends say goodbye to teen killed in Indiana beach fight

KevKennelly left Jean Kennelly. center after funeral for their sMt. Carmel High School student KevKennelly Jr.  St. Barnabas Church

Kevin Kennelly, left, and Jean Kennelly. center, after the funeral for their son, Mt. Carmel High School student Kevin Kennelly Jr. , at St. Barnabas Church in Chicago on Saturday, July 9, 2011. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 29, 2011 12:35AM

The day their son Kevin Kennelly Jr. was put on life-support, Jean and Kevin Kennelly waited by his side at St. Anthony Hospital in Crown Point, Ind.

They remembered being in another hospital room the day he was born, the joy of cradling him in their arms for the first time.

On Saturday, they said goodbye.

Kennelly, 17, died Wednesday of blunt force trauma to the head two days after he was involved in a fight on a beach in Indiana, authorities said. The Beverly teen was set to be a senior at Mount Carmel in the fall.

James K. Malecek, 19, of Lakeview, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated battery and battery in Kennelly’s death.

Hundreds of Kennelly’s friends and classmates Saturday lined St. Barnabas Church’s entrance leading up to the pew, flanking his casket as the pall bearers brought it to the altar.

At the rear of the building were firefighters standing in solidarity with Kevin Kennelly Sr., a Chicago firefighter.

Mount Carmel’s president, the Rev. Tony Mazurkiewicz, described the teen as a “faith-filled young man” who enjoyed volunteering and spending time in Milwaukee working with the disadvantaged.

“In one of his final papers, he wrote that the little things we do in life can go a long way, especially in the life of others,” Mazurkiewicz said.

He said the boy’s death is a reminder that the “gift of parenthood” can be taken away so fast. He then praised Kennelly’s parents’ decision to donate their son’s organs.

Kennelly’s uncle, Joseph Kennelly, said his nephew “loved Chicago, the city’s Beverly neighborhood, St. Barnabas and Mount Carmel High School.

He also “liked to see people laugh. He’d have a bad day pitching . . . and he’d go to the dugout and say, ‘Coach, what’s my ERA?’” his uncle said.

Joseph Kennelly said Kevin Kennelly’s mom, Jean, would do everything for her son. Meanwhile, the boy imitated his father in every way. He wore Chicago firefighter T-shirts, loved Irish music and could work with his hands.

Kevin Kennelly’s computer screensaver was a picture of him with his dad at a 2005 White Sox World Series game.

“Thank God for the 17 years we were blessed with Kevin Kennelly Jr.,” he said.

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