Brighton Woman Recalls Her Connection To JFK

May 29, 2017

Ann Mulligan's mother spent 49 years as personal assistant to Boston Cardinal Richard Cushing, a close Kennedy family friend. Mulligan campaigned for Kennedy, and attended his inauguration.
Credit Brian Morris/WCAI

May 29th marks the 100th birthday of John F. Kennedy, the nation’s 35th President. Ann Mulligan of Brighton has a family connection to the late president. Her mother spent 49 years as the personal assistant to Cardinal Richard Cushing, who was Archbishop of Boston from 1944 to 1970. Cardinal Cushing was a close friend of the Kennedy family, officiating at JFK’s marriage to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in 1953, and at his funeral Mass 10 years later following the President’s assassination in Dallas.

Mulligan became active in Kennedy’s Senate campaign, and later when he ran for President.

“I think of going around Boston – a group of us from my nursing school class at Boston College,” she recalls. “We were out doing flyers, so we were all very excited.”

She remembers that the energy at the time was tremendous. “One of our own people right here in Boston – this was really big time,” she said.

On Election Night in 1960, Mulligan and her friends stayed up all night.

“It was so close. And then they had the big rally at Boston Garden. We were up in the rafters waiting for the President to come in, and that place was packed and full of excitement,” Mulligan said.

Mulligan also was able to go to Kennedy’s inauguration in snowy Washington, DC – but not without a lot of effort.

“We were part of the snowstorm that was holding up everything. We had an evening flight to Washington, and the snow was so bad,” Mulligan recalled. Her flight only made it as far as New York, so Mulligan, her mother, and other various dignitaries from Boston piled onto a train which finally arrived in Washington around 3 AM. They made it to the inaugural ceremony, and were also invited to one of the inaugural balls later that evening.

Mulligan says she’ll never forget the experience. “It was just an electric time.”