He was commissioner of the NBA for 12 years (1963-1975). He graduated University of Notre Dame. He was named a “Knight of St. Gregory” by Pope Paul in 1966, the highest honor awarded to a Catholic layman. He was also awarded the Medal of Monaco and an honorary citizenship in Italy for philanthropic work.
J. Walter Kennedy devoted much of his life to serving the community as a civic leader including serving as a social worker, as the city’s mayor from 1959 to 1963, and on the Board of Education, the Board of Recreation, and as chairman of the Park Commission. He served his community and vowed as mayor to set goals for Stamford so it would not be swallowed by New York City. To this end upon his leaving politics he chaired Stamford’s Economic Base Study. After he retired from working as NBA Commissioner he set up an award to promote racial harmony, and he was the volunteer chairman for the Special Olympics in 1975. For these and for his philanthropic activities in retirement he was awarded the Citizen of the Year.