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Holyoke man builds a better level, waits for patents

By Nate Luscombe

Staff Writer

HOLYOKE As a teenager working construction, Tom Kennedy watched a co-worker get reprimanded for reading a level incorrectly. Kennedy thought to himself, "There must be a better way to read a level."

Years later, Kennedy has found that better way. He's invented the Gravity Guru Level.

Unlike the traditional spirit level (the one with the bubble in it) which can only measure in two directions, Kennedy said the Gravity Guru Level can measure in any direction. Because the invention is in the patent stage, Kennedy cannot show the design to anyone.

Kennedy said the company he's working with on his idea, Invention Technologies, Inc. in Coral Gables, Fla., said his invention is a unique concept. "It's improving on the existing idea, but it has lots of variables that are different," Kennedy said.

Kennedy developed his level by trial and error, building prototype after prototype. He tried hard to think of different ways to do certain tasks. The solution is often right in front of you, "you just have to look at things from a different angle," Kennedy said, moving his torso around to emphasize his point.

He said the new technology in levels, the laser level, can be dangerous because the laser can damage the eyes. "And they're still limited in their range," Kennedy said.

"My level can be used by everyone from a housewife hanging pictures, to a shipbuilder," Kennedy said. His level has a micro- and macro-mode to be used in smaller and bigger spaces.

Kennedy said he'd like to see his level manufactured in Chicopee, because, he said, "People in Chiopee are good with their hands. They have some very good machinists there."

Kennedy cannot be accused of not thinking outside the box. As a teacher in both South Hadley and Holyoke in his earlier days, Kennedy said he worked hard to make sure students got the best education he could give them. He once held invention days every couple of months, and a science fair every while teaching in South Hadley.

He's come up with 16 inventions over the course of his life. "Thoughts just roll through my head. I don't know why, they just always have," Kennedy said.

Kennedy is also a member of the International Poetry Hall of Fame, having written over 5,000 poems in his lifetime, including a book of poetry. He was inducted into the Hall at the same time as Johnny Cash.

He was also one of the founders of the Volleyball Hall of Fame.

These days, Kennedy works part-time for Primerica Financial Family Services in Chicopee, working with people with mortgage, life insurance, investment and family debt.

His life philosophy is simple; "Love everybody, help everybody, and never, never, never give up on anybody," he said.

Kennedy and his wife, Judy, live in Holyoke.