Memorial honors life, legacy and service of volunteer EMT Michael Kenwood

Published in the Princeton Packet

by Philip Sean Curran
September 19, 2016

kenwood220vAt a memorial Sunday for her late father, Michael Kenwood, 7-year-old Laney leaned over, kissed her mother, Elizabeth Frenkel, and gently stroked her back from the front row where they were sitting.

Moments before, Ms. Frenkel had daubed her eye during a brief service at D&R Greenway, near where Mr. Kenwood, a volunteer EMT, lost his life August 28, 2011. He had been responding to a swift-water rescue on Rosedale Road as a member of the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad, amid the crisis of Hurricane Irene that later was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Rescued from the waters, he was taken to the hospital but never recovered. He was 39.

“That it’s been five years, I think, is something that a lot of us have been speaking about recently,” PFARS member Greg Paulson told Mr. Kenwood’s parents and other family and friends.

Sunday’s memorial was intended to celebrate Mr. Kenwood’s life, legacy and service, Mr. Paulson said.

“And it’s about the service that he gave to the community, the service that continues to be given to the community that is inspired by Michael,” he said. “For me, I’ve been a part of the organization for 22 years. And I will not ever go to a shift, go to a meeting, participate in Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad without feeling a part of Michael living on.”

A plaque in his honor will be installed in the area of a bench dedicated to Mr. Kenwood at the park.

Fellow squad member Peter Simon knew Mr. Kenwood from their days as undergraduates at Brandeis University. In college, they worked on the school’s first response unit and were roommates. He shared a story about how Mr. Kenwood, the supervisor of the response unit, had to write Mr. Simon up for running a stop sign on campus with the first response truck.

“But I respected his integrity to instead of just kind of washing it away and saying well, ‘He’s a friend, I’m not going to get him in trouble,’ he did what he need to do for the organization and to function in his role,” Mr. Simon said.

“He was a friend, he would help you anytime that you needed it,” said Mr. Simon, who went with Mr. Kenwood on that call for the rescue in August 2011.

Frank Setnicky, director of operations for PFARS, recalled Mr. Kenwood as being cooperative, compassionate, dedicated — someone with high integrity and excellent mentoring skills.

“If there’s anybody here that was trained by Michael,” Mr. Setnicky said, “you all know what I’m talking about.”


Photograph by Rebecca Nowalski