RFK Jr.'s estranged wife, Mary, found dead in NY

Associated Press Modified: May 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm •  Published: May 16, 2012
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BEDFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s estranged wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, who had fought drug and alcohol problems, was found dead at the family property Wednesday.

An autopsy for the 52-year-old was scheduled for Thursday, and no cause of death had been released.

In a statement issued by Robert Kennedy Jr.'s chief of staff, the family said Mary Kennedy, an architect, "inspired our family with her kindness, her love, her gentle soul and generous spirit."

"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," the family said.

The former Mary Richardson, a longtime connection of the Kennedy clan, married Robert Kennedy Jr., a prominent environmental lawyer and the son of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy, in 1994. The couple had four children, the youngest born in July 2001. Robert Kennedy Jr. also has two children from a previous marriage.

Mary Kennedy also was a designer and had overseen the renovation of the couple's home into an environmentally advanced showpiece. Her family cited her devotion to her children in remembering her.

"We deeply regret the death of our beloved sister Mary, whose radiant and creative spirit will be sorely missed by those who loved her," the family said in a statement issued by attorney Kerry Lawrence, who had represented her in a drunken-driving case. "Our heart goes out to her children who she loved without reservation."

Neighbor Leslie Lampert, who owns the Cafe of Love restaurant a short drive from the Kennedy home, said Mary Kennedy was "at all times just a lovely individual."

"She was community oriented," Lampert said. "She was always kind in our presence."

Another neighbor, Kim Fraioli, a trauma therapist who lives a few houses down from the Kennedys, said the family was private.

"We left them alone," Fraioli. "We didn't have any interaction. I think it's a tragedy. It's very sad for their family and the surviving children. My heart goes out to the family."

At the home on Wednesday, a red brick mansion with a columned porch entrance set in a heavily wooded acreage, police kept media away.

Mary Richardson had known the Kennedys for years, through her friendship with Robert Kennedy Jr.'s sister, Kerry Kennedy, whom she met at boarding school. She had been Kerry Kennedy's maid of honor at her wedding in 1990.