James Edward Kelley was born in Gary, Indiana to James Kelley and Eddie Mae Kelley on February 10, 1948. James lived with his grandparents, Mary and Lee Rooks, whom he loved dearly and always spoke of with great love, respect and admiration. In his early years, James attended the old St. Timothy Church, at his grandmother's insistence. Years later, he found himself re-joining St. Timothy Church where his wife, Alicia belonged. James attended Lincoln Elementary and graduated from Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana. During his life, he earned an Associate of Science Degree, an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Food Service Management, an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Restaurant and Hotel Cookery, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. James Kelley stood 5'8", was larger than life and a bright light to those he loved and his many friends. To his family, he was Jimmy. To his friends, "Rooks," and to his wife, he was James. All who knew him knew how very easy he was to love. He loved life and knew how to enjoy it. Nothing pleased him more than to "have a ball" with his family and friends. James loved to attend Las Vegas fights, and enjoyed all kinds of concerts. The Temptations, the Spinners, the Intruders, and Rod Stewart were some of his favorites. But the list goes on and on. When casino boats opened, it might have been at his request. James loved to run, and to skate. He once told his wife of 17 years, that he wanted his tombstone to read, "Let's Go Out and Play." James laughed often, had many friends that loved him dearly. Today, there are many people, young and old, coming from far and near, who know what a beautiful golden heart he had. People he knew well, some he barely knew, and any child that he met can bear witness to his altruistic nature. He never held back on those he cared for. For those in need, he was not just a talker. He was a doer. James Kelley loved the game of chess, held a Local Chess Coach (Level II) certificate and was a Certified Life Member of the US Chess Federation. At a time he taught an after-school chess class at St. Timothy Community Church. Many young children across the Gary School District learned to play chess under his instruction. James really got a kick out of that! James had many plans and high hopes for programs he had designed for children to learn to play chess during the school day across the country. If he had lived, it's very believable that he would have made that happen. James is preceded in death by both parents, James Kelley, Eddie Mae Kelley; Stepfather, Wallace Bradley; two brothers, Charles Ronald, "Peachie" Kelley, and Preston Bradley; Sister, ShAaron Bradley; Stepson, Justin Skinner; cousin, George "Skippy" Rooks; beloved maternal aunt and uncle, Uncle Rick and Aunt Mamie Rooks. He leaves to cherish his memory, his loving wife, Alicia, who he loved and adored; son, James Edward "Bey Bey" (Joslyn) Kelly, Jr.; two special "adopted" children, Jenee and Doniel Conner; three grandchildren, Aramis (Amber) Kelly, Nasha Kelly and Seth Kelly; two great grandchildren, Tryon Kincade and Derek McNeeley; a special granddaughter Jasmine Boles, four brothers; Wallace "Gator" (Terri), Dr. Kelvin (Jessica) Bradley, Dr. Marvin (Jacqueline) Bradley, and Richard 'Tyrone' Bradley; four sisters, Donna Davis, Patricia "Patty" Bradley, Loretta Bradley, and Arelia "Rico" Bradley; special nephews, Charles Ronald (Lisa) Kelly Jr. and Lamont Owens; a loyal and dedicated friend like no other, George "Skip" Hasenjaeger; two special childhood friends, Angus Cage and William "Sonny Man" Todd; and a host of relatives and friends. Visitation Monday August 17,2020 from 9 to 11:00 a.m. Family hour 10:00-11:00 a.m. Funeral services immediately following at 11:00 a.m. All Services at St. Timothy Community Church 1600 West 25th Avenue Gary, Indiana. Pastor Rahmin Jackson officiating. Interment Calumet Park Cemetery. Sadly, due to the pandemic, the church will limit capacity to 167 people. The funeral will however be live steamed at St. Timothy Church.org
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Published by Post-Tribune from Aug. 12 to Aug. 16, 2020.