Stephen E. Smith

JFKWHP-KN-29561 (crop). Stephen Smith with President Kennedy at the White House.

“It is particularly appropriate that we dedicate this beautiful new building to Steve Smith. For thirty years, he was the cornerstone of the Kennedy family – the cornerstone of our campaigns, the cornerstone of our lives in so many other ways.”

- Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Dedication of the Stephen E. Smith Center
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
February 4, 1991

Stephen Edward Smith was born in Brooklyn on September 24, 1927, the youngest of five boys. He attended Polytechnic Prep, where he was an outstanding athlete. While studying history and social sciences at Georgetown University, he met his future wife of thirty-four years, Jean Kennedy. They married in 1956. Their children are Stephen Jr., William, Amanda, and Kym.

In 1960, Stephen Smith became the political advisor and finance chairman for the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy. He also managed the presidential campaigns of Robert and Edward Kennedy. After the death of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., he became the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Joseph P. Enterprises, Inc., responsible for the Kennedy family’s financial interests.

Stephen Smith was the master builder of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. As Chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Corporation, he undertook the initial fundraising for the Library and oversaw its construction. To support and supplement the Library’s ongoing programs he then developed the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a not-for-profit organization. As its first president, he established an endowment for it.

Stephen Smith died on August 19, 1990. On February 4, 1991, the new program facilities wing of the Kennedy Library was named in his honor to recognize his groundbreaking work on behalf of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.