The Last Kennedy: Jean Kennedy Smith

Ted Kennedy's death leaves one living child born to Joseph and Rose Kennedy.

ByABC News
August 26, 2009, 6:33 PM

Aug. 26, 2009— -- And then there was one.

The death of Edward Kennedy late Tuesday after a yearlong struggle with brain cancer, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who died two weeks earlier after suffering a series of strokes in recent years, leaves just one remaining child born to Joseph and Rose Kennedy: Jean Kennedy Smith.

The 81-year-old former ambassador to Ireland has long maintained a much lower profile than some other members of the extended Kennedy family. She skipped the funeral mass for her sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver to stay with her ailing brother, and has been seen in public very little in recent years.

See photos of who's who in the Kennedy family.

Visit ABC News' special section on Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Watch ABC News' Special: "Remembering Ted Kennedy."

Born in 1928 in Brookline, Mass., Jean Ann Kennedy was the eighth child and youngest daughter of Rose and Joseph Kennedy. She was thought to be the shyest and most-guarded of the Kennedy children. Her mother famously said of her youngest daughter, "She was born so late, that she only was able to enjoy the tragedies, and not the triumphs."

Kennedy Smith attended Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., where she became friends with two future sisters-in-law: Ethel Skakel, who married the late Robert F. Kennedy in 1950, and Joan Bennett, who married Ted Kennedy in 1958.

In 1956, Jean Kennedy married Stephen E. Smith, an executive in a transportation company founded by his grandfather. Smith died of cancer in 1990.

The couple had four children, yet only one managed to land in the tabloids. William Kennedy Smith was accused of rape in 1991 but the well-publicized trial ended in his acquittal. Today, William Kennedy Smith is a doctor whose work focuses on landmines and the rehabilitation of people disabled by them.

Jean Kennedy Smith's first experience in national politics came during John F. Kennedy's run for the White House in 1960, when she traveled the country campaigning for her older brother.

Kennedy Smith became a political figure in her own right three decades later, when President Clinton nominated her to be U.S. ambassador to Ireland in 1993.