James William Kelly Jr. James W. Kelly Jr. of San Bruno died peacefully in his sleep Jan. 17 while visiting his sisters in Bend, Ore. He was 93.
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He was born in Eureka Jan. 2, 1920, to James and Maude Kelly. He graduated with an A.B. degree in English from the University of San Francisco in 1940 and later received a Master of Letters in Journalism in Denver in 1951. He served in the U.S. Army in the Aleutian Islands for two years in World War II. He continued to serve as a U.S. Army Reserve officer for 34 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
In his career he worked for the Lithotype Process Company, the Denver Register, the San Francisco Monitor, the University of San Francisco and the San Francisco Progress. He won awards for writing and photography, including the prestigious 1960 McQuade Award of the Association of Catholic Newsmen for his series on the braceros in California.
A world traveler with lifelong interests in civic issues, human rights, literature, music, and much more, Jim Kelly loved sharing his knowledge and great love of subjects ranging from cookbooks to railroads, western history to mass transit, and jellies to photography.
He was an active member of Native Sons of the Golden West, Veterans of Foreign Wars, California Association of Laryngectomees, American Cancer Society, Lions Club, USF Alumni Association, Catholic San Francisco Advisory Board, Unknown Athletic Club, Cow Hollow Boys, and Lost Chord Club. For decades, he traveled to schools to speak to students about the consequences of smoking, drawing on his own experience in losing his larynx to cancer.
A devout Catholic, Jim Kelly was a founding member of St. Robert's Church and a parishioner of St. Bruno's and St. Robert's for 60 years. He was actively involved in church and school activities as coach, Scout leader, newsletter editor, photographer and lay minister. An extraordinarily devoted family man and friend with an indefatigable curiosity and quick wit, Jim Kelly will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Beloved husband of the late Mary Kelly, he is survived by his sisters, Audrey Scott and Ruth Fee, and his children, Sara Kelly (Gary), Christina Kelly (Bob), Kevin Kelly (Susan), Anne Draus (Greg), Walter Kelly, Marybeth Kelly, Sheila Sigmund (Scott), Victoria Kelly (Scott), Peter Kelly (Denise), and James W. Kelly III (Johanna). He had 22 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
Services include a rosary Feb. 7 at 7:00 p.m. and a funeral mass Feb. 8 at 10:30 a.m., both at St. Robert's in San Bruno, followed by a reception Feb. 8 at 2:00 p.m. at the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco. Donations may be made to Catholic Charities CYO of San Francisco.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 3, 2013