William N. Kelley, longtime resident of New Haven, a Kellwood Company executive and area banker, passed away in his home after a long illness on Dec. 17, 2012. He was 94.
Born in St. Louis on Nov. 27, 1918 to George L. and Martha Warren Kelley, he was raised in Webster Groves and attended Webster Groves High School. In 1940, he graduated from Princeton University
with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and in 1942 married Mary Helen Ramsay, also of Webster Groves. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this past June.
After college "Bill" joined Monsanto Chemical company and during World War II
was involved in manufacturing critical military products for the war effort. He soon joined the Wenzel Tent and Duck Co., in St. Louis. He moved to New Haven, Mo., in 1951 to establish a new factory for Wenzel, Hawthorn Finishing Company. American Waterproofing Company was acquired and he served as president of both. In 1961, Hawthorn joined 15 companies, all suppliers to Sears, to form Kellwood Company, a major manufacturer of apparel and recreational products. He was president of the Recreational Products Division and executive vice president at Kellwood. In 1964, he became a director of Citizens Bank of New Haven and served as Chairman of the board from 1979 to 1995. At the time of his death, he was still active with the bank as director emeritus.
He was actively involved in numerous civic affairs. As a young man, he was president of the St. Louis Audubon Society. He was a member of th board of education for the New Haven school system, serving as president for 10 years. He worked tirelessly on finance campaigns for Princeton University and the Boy Scouts of America. He was awarded the Silver Beaver Award by the Boy Scouts as district board chairman and for his lifetime achievement with the organization. He and others were instrumental in securing funding for a gymnasium/ auditorium for New Haven High School and the community. He served as president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. Based on a long association with Sir Edmund Hillary, he served on the board of the Hillary Foundation, dedicated to building schools in remote parts of Nepal. He was a faithful and enthusiastic supporter of his college, Princeton University, serving as class secretary and president of the Class of 1940 in recent years. Until his death, he wrote a column for the Class of 1940 in the Princeton Alumni Weekly. He was a member of the Princeton Club of St. Louis.
His life was very full with many other interests. As a young man, he was a gifted athlete in football and track. He was a talented painter, writer, gardener, fisherman, birder, canoeist and outdoor enthusiast. He trekked in Tibet and Nepal and many of the wilderness areas of North America including Canada and Alaska. He and Mary loved to travel and visited all the continents of the world (except Antarctica) many times.
He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother Warren and sister Nancy Wilson. He is survived by his wife Mary of New Haven, son William N. Kelley, Jr., and partner Debra Runyan, of Washougal, Wash., son Timothy R. Kelley and wife, Marian, New Haven, grandson, William N. Kelley III and wife Ungee, granddaughter, Emily L. Kelley, all of Fort Collins, Colo., plus three great-grandsons, Alexander Kelley, Fort McChord, Wash., Timothy Kelley, St. Lawrence University, New York state and Robinson Kelley, Fort Collins, Colo., and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial visitation is planned for Jan. 4, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Toedtmann-Grosse Funeral Home in New Haven, with a private memorial service on Jan. 5. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the New Haven School Foundation.