Jean Kennedy Smith was born Jean Ann Kennedy on February 20, 1928 in Brookline, Massachusetts, the eighth of the nine Kennedy children.
Jean was the shiest and most guarded of the Kennedy children. Her mother would say of her youngest daughter, "She was born so late, that she only was able to enjoy the tragedies, and not the triumps." She would go on to attend Mahattenville College, a Sacred Heart school, where should would meet and befriend two future sisters-in-law: Ethel Skakel who would marry her brother Robert in 1950, and Virginia Joan Bennett whom would marry her baby brother Edward in 1958. She herself would marry on May 19, 1955 in the small chapel of St. Patricks Cathedral to Stephan Edward Smith, a bussinessman who helped run the Cleary Brothers Company, the family boat and shipping bussiness. He would, in time, not only take over the Kennedy families' finances, he would also become a political advisor and campaign manager for the Kennedy brothers. (He would become the Undersecretary of the Teasury under President Kennedy).
The Smiths would maintain a lower profile than the other Kennedy's preferring to stay out of the glare of the spotlight. During the early 1960s, they would permanently settle in New York City. Jean would have two sons Stephan Jr.(b. 1957) and William Kennedy (b. 1960), and eventually adopt two daughters: Amanda Mary (b. 1967) and Kym Maria (b. 1972) who was actually born in Vietnam during the war.
Jean managed to stay just out of the camera lens until the 1990's when she and her family would be forced into the spotlight. First, her husband Steve would die after a breif battle with cancer on August 19, 1990. The next year, her son William, who was a medical student at Northwestern Unversity Medical School, was accused of rape in Florida (he was acquitted). Then in 1993, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the American Ambassador to Ireland, continuing a legacy of diplomacy begun by her father who was the Ambassador to the Court of St. James during the Roosevelt administration. She played a pivotal role in the peace process in that region for almost five years before resigning the post.
Since then, Ambassador Kennedy-Smith has founded the Very Special Arts, a non- for profit organization which promotes the artistic talents of mentally and physically challenged children. She also sits on the board of the John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts. She today commutes between New York and Washington D.C.