Rushton Skakel Sr., brother of Ethel Kennedy and head of a family business that was once one of the largest private companies in the country, has died. He was 79.
Skakel, whose son Michael was convicted in June of a 1975 murder, died in Hobe Sound, Fla., Thursday after a long battle with a brain illness that led to frontal lobe dementia, his lawyer, Emanuel Margolis, said Saturday.
Rushton Skakel was one of seven children born to George and Ann Skakel. His sister Ethel married future attorney general and senator Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in 1950. Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.
Rushton Skakel took over the family business, Great Lakes Carbon, in the mid-1960s, after the deaths of his parents and brother George Skakel Jr. in separate plane crashes.
The company, which manufactured carbon coke, was once one of the largest private companies in the country.
That wealth was on display in the Tudor-style mansion in the Belle Haven section of Greenwich, Conn., where Rushton Skakel and his wife, Anne Reynolds Skakel, raised their seven children. Anne Skakel died of cancer in 1972 at the age of 42.
In 1975, a neighbor of the Skakels', 15-year-old Martha Moxley, was beaten to death with a golf club, which was later identified as belonging to a set owned by the Skakel family.
Michael Skakel was charged with murder in January 2000 and sentenced last August to 20 years to life in prison. He is appealing the conviction.
Michael Skakel's trial lawyer, Michael Sherman, said, "In the four years that I've had contact with [the elder Skakel], he's always been in failing health, both mentally and physically. It's a very tragic ending."
In addition to his sister Ethel and son Michael, Skakel is survived by his wife, Anna Mae; sons Rushton Jr., Thomas, John, David and Stephen; daughter Julie; two stepdaughters, Elizabeth Mallozzi and Jennifer Kennedy; sister Anne McCooey; and 13 grandchildren.