Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: Goodby Uncle Delbert, John Delbert Kelly (1920 - 2013)

Uncle Delbert passed away Friday. He lived a very long and good life and is remembered by many people because he was a real nice guy and also a high school teacher, assistant principal and then principal, so he touched many lives. Facebook has numerous lovely postings in his honor right now. And there's his obituary which you can find right here. But he was my uncle so I want to show you a little about who he was by posting some family photos of him. He was the last of six brothers and sister surviving. It's the end of an era, the last of one family.

First you need to know that all the family called him Delbert but the world called him John. It was one of those idiosyncratic naming things families do sometimes. Because there was more than one Delbert, Bert, or Adelbert, Uncle Delbert got to be Delbert and his uncle got to be Burt.

John Delbert with his uncle Adelbert Zeller (1883 - ?),
Frostburg, Allegany, Maryland, about 1942.
The above photo isn't the earliest picture of Uncle Delbert in our photo file. Here he is, below, with his two brothers, Bernie, Bernard Michael Kelly (1918 - 2007), and my own father, Pat, Francis Patrick Kelly (1916 - 2007). Must be about 1922 or so because Delbert, in front, looks really young. That's Uncle Bernie on the left and Dad on the right. In the larger version of the photo, that's Helen Lee Kelly Natoly (1914 - ?) on the right. She was the oldest. Not pictured are Christiana Kelly Fraley (1922 - ?) and Louise Kelly Chaney (1924 - 2002).

Bernard Michael "Bernie" Kelly (1918 - 2007), Francis Patrick "Pat" Kelly (1916 - 2007) and in front, John Delbert Kelly (1920 - 2013)
And here is the image in its entirety, thanks to Cousin Linda!
We have no idea who that kid is on the far left.
Here's what Uncle Delbert's obit had to say about his service in the armed forces during WWII.
Mr. Kelly was a veteran of World War II and Korea. He was inducted into the Army on May 6, 1942 and graduated from Officer Candidate School (OCS) in 1943. He served as a company officer with the 616th Ord. BN in the European Theatre. He left active duty in July 1946 as a Company Commander with the rank of Captain. In June 1951, he was recalled from the active reserve to serve 16 months during the Korean war. In Korea, he served as BN. Staff Officer with the 32nd Ord. BN. Upon the completion of his Korean tour, he joined the Honorary Reserves.  
In recent times I liked to call Uncle Delbert and chat. He suffered from some memory impairment so I'd have to remind him exactly which niece I was at the start of every conversation, which was no bother at all. Then we were off to the races, me with notebook in hand. I loved hearing about his time in the service. I know his time in the service wasn't fun at the first because of a letter he wrote to Dad, which I blogged about here. Here are some other photos from the times when Bernie and Delbert had signed up but hadn't yet left. Dad was exempt because of physical issues and you can read about that here.
The ladies of the family pose.

Delbert, Dad and Bernie, 1942.
Delbert, 1942.

Mom and Dad took the train south to see Bernie and again to see Delbert before they shipped overseas. Everyone knew it might just be the last time as it was war time and anything could happen. Here's a photo of Mom and Delbert before he left. And below that is a photo booth picture taken of Delbert all decked out in uniform.

The two brothers both made it back home after VE Day. Bernie had had enough but Delbert went on to the Korean War. After the wars, he got an education and eventually taught and was a school administrator. Here's part of the obit about that.
Mr. Kelly was retired from the Board of Education of Allegany County. He served as a member of the Beall High Faculty for nearly 20 years, initially as a math teacher and subsequently a Guidance Counselor and Vice Principal. For 10 years, prior to retiring, he served as a Principal of Flintstone School which was a K-12 school. Mr. Kelly received a BS Degree from Frostburg State College (now Frostburg State University) and a MA Degree from the University of Maryland at College Park. He did extensive post-graduate study at the University of Maryland, Purdue University and Boston University.
Of course I don't remember him as a soldier or an educator. He was simply Uncle Delbert to me. Funny, sharp whited, always smiling. All of us sitting around Grandma Kelly's kitchen, the hub of activity. Mostly he was in a hurry living his busy life so he often kept his coat on, sitting on the bench of the big hat stand near the hallway.
Here's my favorite photo of Uncle Delbert and his brothers. It was Grandma's birthday, and must have been after Grandpop Kelly passed on, so after 1969. I'll have to remember to ask Mom. I wasn't there, so I guess I was off living my own busy life. Too bad.

That's Dad on top n the red sweater,
Bernie on the left in yellow,
and Delbert on the right.
And that's Grandma Kelly smack in the middle of her boys!
Here's Uncle Delbert, cropped out of that photo.
Here are the two photos of him from the obituary, below, of a young and an old Uncle Delbert. Might as well include them here too. I imagine his son, Kevin, supplied them. Thanks to Kevin there are two more family photos in my file.
There's never enough time, is there? Goodbye Uncle Delbert.

No comments:

Post a Comment