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Subject: Southern Gospel Singer Rev. Hal Kennedy (The Dixie Echoes)


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Dies at 89
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Date Posted: Thursday, August 29, 08:55:10pm

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Pensacola - The Reverend Harold "Hal" Kennedy left this world on Sunday afternoon, August 25, in time for service on Sunday night in Heaven…guitar tuned and ready to play. He didn't miss a beat as Heaven's choir backed him up singing, "He means more than all the world to me."

Hal was born July 19, 1930, to Aubrey & Eura Kennedy in Florala, AL. He was a mischievous child, full of musical talent, who would live a very adventurous life. In his early teens, he played in numerous bands to help his family financially, all while attending school. He gave his life to the Lord in 1948 and felt his call to the ministry. In late 1949, as a young preacher, he held a revival at a church in Lucedale, MS, where he met Voncile Dungan, who would become his wife on March 3, 1950, and that union of almost 68 years was blessed with 3 children.

Hal began his career in Pensacola as a booth announcer on WPFA TV (Channel 15) until it transitioned into WPFA radio. He then spent 10 years as the morning drive DJ, "Hillbilly Hal." He emceed countless country music acts at the Municipal Auditorium, including a young Elvis in 1956, making lifelong friends with many of the top entertainers of the day. He was a talented guitarist and singer and after recording a promo of "Walking My Lord Up Calvary's Hill," he was invited to join a new southern gospel quartet formed by J. G. Whitfield. That group became known as "The Dixie Echoes with Hal Kennedy." The group became renowned in the Gospel Music world with weekly performances on the nationally syndicated TV show "The Gospel Singing Jubilee," reaching their pinnacle as a participant in the first southern gospel concert ever held in Carnegie Hall. His first solo album was titled, "The Little Man with the Big Voice" and that identity would follow him until his death. After spending 15 years in gospel singing/evangelistic work, he felt the Lord leading him in another direction. In January, 1974, he and Voncile became pastors at First Pentecostal Church in Titusville, FL. They would remain there for 33 years, building a dynamic church to the Glory of God!

Hal loved fishing and won many tournaments, earning the name "Ling King." As a young man he was an avid diver and was one of the founding members of Escambia County Search and Rescue. He was also a participant in the first civilian group to use the newly invented "scuba" equipment to make the 85' dive to the Russian Freighter in the 1950s. He loved spearfishing and his prize catch was a 460 lb. goliath grouper he speared while on a dive off Pensacola Beach.

Hal Kennedy, an incredible man, who lived an incredible life on earth, is now in the presence of the One he loved the most.

He was preceded in death by his precious Voncile; his parents; brother, Rex; sister, Billie Jean Sanders; brothers-in-law, Jerry Sanders and Al Albritton.

He is survived by his children and their spouses: Patty and Darryl Malone, Gary and Susan Kennedy, Harold and Cindy Kennedy; 5 Granddaughters: Charla Roemer, Mande Kennedy, Shannon Fernandez, Candi (Jeff) Harris, Kadee (Martin) Roddy; 6 Great-grandchildren: Braydon Kennedy, Kaili Harris, Trey Roemer, Kingston Wong, Kieran Ajay, Amelia Fernandez; sister: Doris Albritton; brothers: Jerry (Tonie) Kennedy, Jimmie Kennedy, Larry (Lillian Steyne) Kennedy; special cousin, Inez (Robert) Brown, and their families, along with a host of other relatives and friends.

A homegoing celebration will be held Saturday, August 31, First Pentecostal Church, 6500 North W Street, with visitation beginning at 4:30 pm and the service at 6:00 pm. A reception will follow the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to First Pentecostal Church (firstpent.org) for the D.L. and Paul Welch Training Center or to Hope Source Int'l Inc. (hopesourceinc.org) providing clean water to the people of Haiti.

Faith Chapel South is entrusted with the arrangements. You may express your condolences online at www.fcfhs.com.

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