In 2006, the third Legacy of Servant Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dabney Kennedy.
Dabney Kennedy was born in March 1936, in Stephenville, Texas, a little town about 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth. He enrolled in Cub Scouting and earned the Arrow of Light. When old enough, he became a Boy Scout, serving first as patrol leader and later as senior patrol leader. He earned the Eagle Award, with palms, and then went on to join Explorers and earn that program’s Silver Award.
Kennedy was inducted into the very small Otena lodge in 1950. The lodge was so young that there were no Brotherhood Honor members in it at that point. In 1952, Kennedy became Otena’s first Brotherhood member and was bestowed this honor by Karankawa Lodge. In 1954 he was in his lodge’s first class of Vigil Honor members and received the name “Akikta” which is interpreted as “One Who Works With Determination.” Kennedy served as lodge secretary, two terms as lodge chief, and at the age of 18 he was appointed to be the “junior lodge adviser”. Kennedy attended as a youth numerous area meetings, and got to know E. Urner Goodman.
He served on the camp staff and later became the camp director. At the National Jamboree in 1957 at Valley Forge he served on the OA Service Corps and led his lodge delegation to NOAC in Lawrence, Kansas in 1958. Since 1958, Kennedy has participated in and played an instrumental part in the production of over 30 national events for the Order. He served the Order as the program chairman for over ten National OA Conferences (NOAC) where he was responsible for most of the coordination of NOAC.
Dabney is a recipient of the OA Distinguished Service Award (1969), Silver Beaver (1970), and Silver Antelope (1989). He has served as Cubmaster, Troop Committee Chairman, Council Camping Chairman, Lodge Adviser of Colonneh Lodge for 20 years, and section adviser for 22 years. He was appointed Vice Chairman of Program in 1985 for the National OA Committee, a post he held through 1996 – and he served as the lead adviser for NOAC and other national OA events during those years.
These accomplishments, however impressive themselves, cannot begin to describe the positive influence and mark Dabney has left on the Order. Kennedy also made an impact on the Order as a whole by designing and creating the Founder’s Award. As a visionary of his time, he realized the need to have a national event every summer and the importance of electing new national youth officers for one-year terms instead of two-year terms. Dabney was appointed to the National OA Committee in 1970 and quickly got involved in the development and implementation of the Order’s national programs. He helped to create the OA 60th Anniversary / Bicentennial Award, rolled out in 1975, and later NOAC participation awards and the OA 75th Anniversary Award. He created the OA’s history in coins and guided the production and preservation of the video footage of Dr. Goodman.
Outside of Scouting, in 1964 Kennedy graduated from the University of Texas, School of Pharmacy and had a very successful career as a pharmacist. Most notably, he spent 30 years working for the Dow Chemical Company as a Regional Sales Manager, National Sales Trainer, and National Safety Manager. He married his wife Peggy Jean in 1960 and has two sons that are both Eagle Scouts and members of the Order.
When he received the Lifetime Achievement Award, he wore the sash Goodman gave to Carl Marchetti—the same sash Marchetti wore to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award. Kennedy wished that all future recipients would wear the sash when accepting the award.
When asked about his strong and continued magnetic passion for the Order of the Arrow he responded that the most rewarding part of continued service was being able to watch young boys grow and develop into strong, mature leaders through the Order. He went on to say that a NOAC is so important and unique because the youth volunteers set the standard. NOAC allows young leaders to breathe new life and ideas into the Order and gives them a chance to nurture their strengths as young men and the leaders of tomorrow.
Those who are acquainted with Dabney and have benefited from his counsel know first-hand of his effectiveness as an adviser and mentor, of his persistence and determination. He is known to be inspired and inspiring, motivated and motivating. He is passionate about everything he undertakes, an innovator and a peacemaker. Arrowmen of all ages admire him. Dabney Kennedy is truly an inspirational leader and the Order of the Arrow is fortunate to have such a devoted volunteer who seeks, and challenges others to seek, the higher vision.