Kennedys Celebrate Matriarch Ethel’s 94th Birthday with Throwback Photos – PEOPLE


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"Happy birthday Grandma!" daughter Kerry Kennedy wrote on Instagram along with a series of images

Ethel Kennedy is 94 and the Kennedy family is celebrating.

On Monday, members of the famous clan used social media to celebrate the milestone occasion, sharing photos of Ethel, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy, on her special day.

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"Happy birthday Grandma!" daughter Kerry Kennedy wrote on Instagram, along with a series of photos showing her and Ethel and photos of her, Ethel and her children with former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, her ex: twins Cara and Mariah and daughter Michaela.

In a separate post, also shared to Kerry's account, she posted photos of Ethel as a child and young woman.

Throughout her life, the Kennedy matriarch has helped the family weather a number of personal storms, including her husband's assassination five years after his brother was also fatally shot.

Tragedy struck again when her sons David overdosed in 1984 and then Michael died after a skiing accident on New Year's Eve 1987.

Still, in public, Ethel has remained strong and prayerful, as former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo described her in a 1998 PEOPLE profile: "I suspect when she's at mass and alone in a pew that she allows herself a tear. But she won't allow herself a tear with you. She doesn't make her problem your problem. It's probably harder in her life than anyone else's to find the evidence that God is good. Yet she believes it."

Daughter Kerry described her similarly, saying that same year of her mother: "She goes to mass every day of her life. She prays on her knees before church, prays before every meal and prays on her knees before going to bed."

In his 2016 book, RFK Jr: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the Dark Side of the Dream, biographer Jerry Oppenheimer claimed that Ethel never truly recovered from the 1968 assassination of her husband and rarely supervised her children during their youth. Her kids, however, offered another assessment.

"She's the greatest source of strength to all of us," daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who is also McKean's mother, told PEOPLE in '98. "She's filled with love. She makes people feel special. She has a terrific sense of humor. She's a doer."

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