Jacksonville woman, Karen Lepanto, grew up among Kennedy family

11:30 AM, Nov 22, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The public has the chance to own a few rare artifacts that once belonged to President John F. Kennedy.

Auctions will be held in Dallas and Massachusetts this Saturday that contain hundreds of pieces of Kennedy's past.

Some of the items up for auction include a rocking chair Kennedy used in the Oval Office, as well as two flags that Kennedy was often photographed in front of.

Some of the opening bids start as high as $50,000 and $100,000.

The auction in Massachusetts will include memorabilia from a woman who lives in Jacksonville's east Arlington neighborhood.

Karen Lepanto moved to Florida from Washington D.C. more than 30 years ago.

She was born and raised there, and her father, James Boyer, was a policeman at the U.S. Capitol.

"He loved his job," she told First Coast News.

Lepanto said her father had the kind of personality that got him noticed and made him likeable among all the politicians.

She said her father became close friends with one politician in particular, then-U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy.

Lepanto said the two men became so close that her father took on added responsibilities as the Kennedy's personal driver and handyman.

"There was not a day when I was a child growing up that the Kennedy name wasn't mentioned in our household in one fashion or another," she said.

Lepanto remembers a lot about the relationship between the two families. She said it's always been the one thing that made her feel "special."

"He'd (her father) get phone calls in the middle of the night. The phone would ring, and it would be Kennedy calling for him to come pick him up at different places," she said.

Lepanto added, "Kennedy never carried money. They'd stop for a newspaper and my father would have to pay for it because Kennedy did not carry money with him at all."

Lepanto said she never asked her father where Kennedy needed picked up in the middle of the night, adding that he probably would not have told her anyway.

"He took that to his grave," she said.

Of course, the day Kennedy was shot is a day Lepanto will never forget.

"That was the only time my father ever cried was when he learned Kennedy had been shot."

Kennedy's funeral is just as vivid in her memory.

"I was at the funeral procession as a little girl. I remember that as plain as day," she said, noting that she watched the procession from inside a D.C. highrise.

In fact, one of the items she's auctioning is a snapshot of Kennedy's casket inside the U.S. Capitol rotunda.

It was her father, she said, who opened the doors so the public could come inside for the viewing.

But now, Lepanto is entering a new chapter as she lets go of treasured family keepsakes.

"They (her parents) promised me these items, and it was always to be for my retirement," she explained.

She said she's reached the point in her life where it's time to think about her future financially.

"It's not easy, but it was time. It's time," she said.

You can learn more about the auction and the items Lepanto is selling here.

First Coast News

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