John Woodrow Kelly
August 26, 1919 - September 1, 2013
Resident of Fremont
Long time Fremont resident John Woodrow Kelly died September 1, 2013. He was 94 years old. John was born on August 26, 1919 to Georgina M. and John C. Kelly, in Oakland, California.
John had a life-long love of all things "mechanical" which he inherited from his father, and an innate sense of how things worked. He could fix anything. In his working career he was a cabinet maker at Walstad Cabinet shop in Oakland; following WWII he was a machinist for the Besler Corporation in Oakland (maker of row crop sprayers and the world's first steam powered airplane), then in the early 1950's he moved into the sales of agricultural equipment for Besler. John and his wife, Mary, partnered with a friend to open Kelly's Rentals and Sales, a garden supply and home improvement tool rental company in Fremont, in 1956. They were pioneers in the do-it-yourself movement. They began with only the tools from their garage to get the business started. Subsequently, during the nearly thirty years of family ownership, Kelly's grew to include larger equipment rental as well as delivery of ready mix concrete and rock products; the concrete and rock portion of the business remains active today under other ownership.
John joined the US Army in June 1943; he served as a sound ranger for Battery A 288th Field Artillery Observation Battalion. His primary service was in Germany and the Belgian Ardennes during WWII, including the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944. (Military sound ranging uses the triangulation of sound to locate enemy armament and facilitate its destruction.) It was during his Army training at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey that he met and fell in love with his sound-ranging instructor, Mary M. Grieser of New York. They were married in 1946. He and Mary (deceased) had three children who survive him: Margaret Vinson (Tom) of Piedmont, CA, John C. Kelly (Kathy) of Palm Harbor, FL and William A. Kelly (Allisen) of Palmdale, CA and grandchildren Michael Patrick and Lauren Elizabeth. John is survived by his loving wife Isabel E. Kelly to whom he was wed in 1992, her daughter Patricia Galli (Albert) of Fairfield, CA and Pat's sons Michael Galli (Carol) of Davis, CA and Peter Galli of Fairfield, CA; Isabel's daughter, Linda Garcia, preceded him in death.
His family and friends were truly blessed to have had him in their lives. Visitation will be Thursday, September 12th from 5:00-8:00 p.m. with a 7:00 p.m. vigil at Berge-Pappas-Smith Chapel of the Angels, 40842 Fremont Blvd, Fremont. A mass celebrating John's life will be held at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 43148 Mission Blvd., Fremont, CA 94539 at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, September 13th. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation be made to
, in John's memory.
Published in Inside Bay Area on Sept. 6, 2013