Milbridge – Willard M. Kelley, Jr., 42, went home to be with his Lord and Savior Monday, October 11, 2004 at a Boston hospital, after a long and courageous battle with leukemia. He was born August 11, 1962 in Bangor the son of Willard and Lorena (Alley) Kelley, Sr. Willard was educated in Steuben schools, attended Sumner High School, and graduated from Acadia Christian School, class of 1980. While in high school, Willard displayed an interest in politics and government and attended the Mock Legislature, where he was elected governor.
Following high school, Willard attended Lee College in Tennessee for a time before returning to Maine. At that juncture of his life, he became more active as a volunteer fire fighter, and also began working with Petit Manan Ambulance Corps, the local volunteer ambulance. Firefighting and emergency response were interests Willard held deeply, and he remained active with each of these endeavors his entire life. He was Assistant Chief of the Harrington Volunteer Fire Department, a Volunteer Firefighter with the Milbridge and Steuben Volunteer Fire Departments, and was on the Board of Directors for the Petit Manan Ambulance Corps and the Milbridge Medical Center. Willard was also a member of Pleides Lodge #173, A.F. & A.M. As a firefighter, Willard was involved with many fires, and was especially proud of his work as Incident Commander at the Kelco Fire in Milbridge in 1999. He will also be remembered for his “tire fire” in the early 1990’s.
Though Willard held a deep love of the Emergency services, he made a distinct mark on the many lives he touched as a funeral director at his funeral homes, the Bragdon-Kelley-Campbell Funeral Home, throughout Hancock and Washington counties. As a funeral director, Willard exercised his interest in politics, and became an active member in the Maine Funeral Director’s Association, where he served as President during 1995-96. He followed this interest through on to the National level, and served as Policy Board Representative to the National Funeral Director’s Association during 1996-97, and was elected At-Large Representative of the Policy Board to the Executive Board of NFDA for 1998-99. He held a firm belief in what was right and wrong, and was always careful to see that things were done right.
To that end, he ran a nearly successful campaign for Representative to the Maine House for District #131 in 2000. As a funeral director, Willard also carried that commitment to seeing that things were done right, always making certain that services were reflective of the life that was lived, and served the needs of the survivors left behind. Always a patriot, he paid special attention to the services of veterans, making sure they received their due honor.
Willard will be missed by the many families he cared for, the numerous people he met in his wide travels, his colleagues in the emergency services and in funeral service, his employees, to whom he was more than a boss, he was a friend, and especially by his family.
In addition to his parents of Steuben, Willard is survived by his son, Joseph Lawrence Patrick Kelley and his former wife, Cynthia Scally, both of Harrington; a brother, Charles Kelley and his wife Julie of Steuben; a sister, Kathy White and her husband Jim of Franklin; eight nieces and nephews, to whom he was affectionately known as “Uncle Duff”, Alyssa Carolyn, Mack Harold, Dedra Anne, Katie Bea, Brady Charles, and Connor Lewis Kelley, all of Steuben, and Hannah Evelyn and Kyle James Carver, both of Franklin; an uncle, Lawrence Alley and his wife Frances of Steuben; special cousins, Sylvina Lyons and her husband Shawn and their children, Harold and Samuel, all of Steuben, Lawrence Alley, Jr. and his wife Marion of Hancock, and Gary Alley of Steuben; his second mother, Susan Green and her husband Ron of Milbridge; his “little brother” Chris Chipman and his wife Monica of Milbridge; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was predeceased by his grandparents, Lawrence and Hannah Kelley, and Harold and Sylvina Alley.
Willard’s family would like to extend a special and heartfelt thank you to Dr. Carl and Ora Aselton and the staff at the Milbridge Medical Center, and to all the doctors, nurses, and staff at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Maine Medical Center, and Eastern Maine Medical Center.
Visiting hours will be held 2-4 and 6-8 P.M. Friday at the Bragdon-Kelley-Campbell Funeral Home, 215 Main St., Ellsworth, and 2-4 & 5:30-7:30 P.M. Saturday at the Bragdon-Kelley-Campbell Funeral Home, 47 Main St., Milbridge. True to his form, Willard would like to take the opportunity to offer a final thank you to all who have loved him over the years by offering an invitation to join him in a fireworks display at the Town Pier in Milbridge at 8:30 P.M. Saturday evening. Funeral services will be held 1 P.M. Sunday at the Narraguagus High School Gymnasium, U.S. Route 1 in Harrington with the Rev. Lewis Cushman, Charles Kelley, and Elder Dwight Carver officiating. Private internment will be at the Cushman-Kelley Family Cemetery in Steuben.
Gifts in memory of Willard may be sent to the volunteer fire department or ambulance corps of one’s choice, or to the Beth C. Wright Cancer Resource Center, 3 High St., Ellsworth, ME 04605. A memorial register is available online at Legacy.com.