John J. Kelly, 81, of Vernon, beloved husband of 58 years to Patricia (Caplis) Kelly, died on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, surrounded by his family.
He was born on March 13, 1932, in Flushing, N.Y., to the late John Redman Kelly and Vivian (Dennen) Kelly. John grew up in Flushing, N.Y., and in his youth, competed in ice speed skating with Queens Brook Skating Club, and participated in the Silver Skate Competition at Madison Square Garden. He attended Chaminade High School, where he excelled in track and football, and graduated in 1950, having received the Long Island Daily Press gold medal for the athlete with the highest scholastic achievement. In 1954, John graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Fordham University, where he also was a member of the ROTC program. He was an Air Force pilot, attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut Air National Guard, in 1963 was selected for astronaut training, and earned the rating as a command pilot. As a fighter pilot, John flew over a half dozen military aircraft from the Piper J-3 Cub to his favorite, the super sonic F-102, which was capable of flying mach 2. He acquired numerous ratings as a private pilot, including seaplane and helicopter pilot ratings. In 1959, John joined United Technologies, Hamilton Standard. Early in his career, he was assigned to the Space and Sea Department. where he performed zero gravity testing for the "manned orbiting laboratory" space suit. Later, Hamilton Standard won the Apollo space suit contract. John was especially proud of the many roles he held throughout his career and traveling the world, which his job allowed him to do. John also enjoyed skiing, sail boating, water skiing, and he enjoyed the rewards of his efforts in raising five children who enjoy life as much as he did, as well as spending time with his grandchildren.
Besides his wife, whom John cherished, he is survived by his children, Gregory Kelly, and his wife, Jade, Karen Marie Kelly, Mark Kelly, and his wife, Kim, Mary Pat Schmitt, and her husband, Peter, John Paul Kelly, and his wife, Dina; his grandchildren, Emily, Jack, Julia, and Ryan; his sister, Rosemary Marczewski; his niece, Melissa Bennett; and nephew, Charles Marczewski.
The family extends a heartfelt thanks to Joy and especially to Kwaku ("Ben") and the nurses on Conklin-fifth floor Hartford Hospital for their kindness and great care they provided to John.
Relatives and friends may join the family Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Burke Fortin Funeral Home, 76 Prospect St., Rockville. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, at 10 a.m. at St. Bernard Church, Rockville. Burial with full military honors will follow at St. Bernard Cemetery, Rockville.
The family requests memorial donations be made in lieu of flowers to the East of the River Parkinson's Support Group, in care of Marcie Dwyer, 99 Burnbrook Road, East Hartford, CT 06118.
For online condolences please visitwww.pietrasfuneralhome.com