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Rosemary Olberding Kelly Conrad

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GREEN TOWNSHIP - Rosemary Olberding Kelly Conrad worked with Rod Serling, Bob Braun, Paul Dixon, Dotty Mack and other local TV legends, but Paul Conrad remembers his wife's three decades of volunteerism.

"She did a lot of things for old St. Francis-St. George Hospital and many organizations," said Conrad of Green Township about his wife, who died Monday from lymphoma. She was 84.

After retiring from WLWT-TV (Channel 5) in the late 1970s, she devoted her time to the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Foundation; AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Cincinnati Opera; Springer and St. Rita schools; the University of Cincinnati; and the .

She was a 1996 Enquirer Woman of the Year and 2000 Mercy Health Partners Foundation Friend of the Year.

The Price Hill native attended Mount St. Joseph Academy and College before graduating from UC's College-Conservatory Of Music.

She started her career in the WCPO music library, and eventually appeared on TV with Mack and Dixon.

By 1950, she had moved to WLWT-TV, where she appeared on "Captain Glenn's Bandwagon" and the "Half Pints Club" children's shows; starred in "Leave It To Kathy," a sitcom written by Serling; and hosted "Straw Hat Matinee" broadcast by NBC as a summer replacement series.

Kelly also did modeling and commercials in New York and Los Angeles. She came home in 1966 to co-host Braun's afternoon show on Channel 5.

She was named the first director of women's features in WLWT-TV and WLW-AM in 1970. Her daily reports on civic, cultural and philanthropic events paved the way for charity work she did after marrying Conrad in 1978.

Friends, family and colleagues said Kelly never let celebrity go to her head. She loved to jokingly tell people that she was once "a star," but always "with a twinkle in her eye because she knew she wasn't a star," says former Channel 5 colleague Bill Myers. "She was just a bright light."

Her charity began at home, said daughter Kathleen Kelly Bareswilt of White Oak.

If someone just moved into a new home, "She'd say: 'I'll grab my paint brush and I'll paint your closets.' Or she'd tell my girls, 'Bring over your prom dress, and I'll fix the straps,' " Bareswilt said.

"She was the life of the party. She remembered all the names of my daughters' friends. She knew all the servers at Price Hill Chili. She just loved people," Bareswilt said.

In addition to her husband and daughter, Kelly is survived by a son, Paul of Chicago; stepdaughters Clare Duane of West Chester Township; Linda Eichenberger of Amberley Village; Lucy Carroll of Symmes Township; Michele Orlando of Green Township; and stepsons Paul J. Conrad III of Cincinnati; Michael Conrad of Silverton; Carl and Richard Conrad of Delhi Township; and 18 grandchildren.

A memorial Mass will be 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Simon Catholic Church, 825 Pontious Road, Delhi Township.There is no visitation.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Reggae Run, c/o The Maria Olberding Foundation, 3580 Spring Grove Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45223.

Written by John Kiesewetter | [email protected]
Published in The Cincinnati Enquirer from Apr. 13 to Apr. 14, 2011
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