William J. Bessette’s Bio, Wife, Children, and Career

William J. Bessette was the father of Carolyne Bessette-Kennedy. He was born on November 27, 1928, in New London, CT. William was married to Ann Messina, but they divorced when their children were still young. After divorcing William, Ann married Richard Freeman, an orthopedic surgeon.

William had three children in his first marriage: Lisa Bessette, Lauren Bessette, and Carolyne Bessette. Carolyne and Lauren died in a plane crash. After divorcing Ann Messina, William married Sharon Bessette, but it is unclear if they had any children together.

Details on William Bessette’s education are not public. He worked as the Vice President of Stanley Handling company, served in the army for two years from 1946 to 1948, and was an engineer. William’s first wife, Ann Messina, worked as a school administrator in the New York City school system.

His Daughter

Carolyne Bessette tried to model after college, but it did not work in her favor. She then started working with Calvin Klein, an American fashion label; she started as a saleswoman and went through the ranks to become the director of publicity at the company’s main store in Manhattan. Given her fashion style, Carolyne was promoted to the position of dealing with high-profile clients and started earning a six-figure salary.

William Bessette’s daughter styled people like newscaster Diane Sawyer and actress Annette Bening. While working at Calvin Klein, Caroline Bessette met John Kennedy Jr, who was then dating Daryl Hannah. Two years later, they started dating, and Carolyne got a chance to meet some of John Kennedy’s family members. They got engaged in 1995 and married the following year.

William’s daughter stopped working at Calvin Klein months before her secret wedding to John Kennedy Jr.

William Bessette’s Daughter’s Wedding and Death

Carolyne and John Kennedy Jr. exchanged their wedding vows on September 21, 1996, in a secret ceremony to avoid press and media attention. The marriage occurred in a tiny wooden chapel in Cumberland, a remote island in Georgia. John’s sister Caroline was the matron of honor, her daughters were flower girls, and Caroline Kennedy’s son was the ring bearer. After the wedding, they went on their honeymoon in Turkey.

After the wedding, the media attention increased, often making them uncomfortable, and Carolyne refused to appear in fashion magazines and give interviews. There were rumors that their marriage was experiencing marital issues, and they were considering divorce.

William’s daughter died on July 16, 1999, in a plane crash alongside her husband and older sister, Lauren Bessette. Carolyne’s husband was the pilot; Navy divers recovered their bodies on July 21. The bodies were cremated, and the ashes were scattered on Martha’s Vineyard coast.


William J. Bessette died on November 21, 2014, aged 85. He died peacefully while in his sleep at Mercy Hospital. William was probably sick, explaining why he was hospitalized, but his family didn’t reveal if he was ill, nor did they tell reasons for his hospitalization. He was buried at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam, Hampden County, Massachusetts, USA.