P atrick Joseph Kelly (P.J.) loving and devoted grandfather, father, son and husband, age 83, died of a sudden illness at Glens Falls Hospital surrounded by his loving children and family on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. He was fondly known as the “Mayor” of Middle Granville by all who knew and loved him.
Born July 22, 1927, in Middle Granville to Patrick and Mary (Fennell) Kelly, P.J. graduated from Granville Central High School, where he gained renown as a superior athlete in many sports, but his true love was football, for which his superior playing abilities are still widely known. The epitome of the “Greatest Generation” and a quintessential Irishman, P.J. was one of 16 brothers and sisters who lived together with their parents through the depths of the Great Depression.
After working in his father’s slate quarry as a youth, he served proudly in the Navy at the end of World War II. After the war, he attended Ithaca College as part of the GI Bill where he continued his football career. His studies were cut short after two years, as he returned home to Middle Granville to care for his family as a result of his father’s declining health. Fate intervened as he hitchhiked home from Ithaca as he met a local resident who sold him the property where he would establish Kelly’s Tavern, a local landmark he operated and loved for more than 60 years. P.J. continued to play football, including semi-professional football for the (Glens Falls) Greenjackets and he would later take great pride in being inducted into the Greenjackets Hall of Fame in 2001. The Mayor’s exploits on the field where chronicled in an article by the Granville Sentinel entitled a “Legend in his Own Time” in 2006.
P.J. was very proud of his pure Irish heritage, and was a congregant of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic church in Middle Granville all his life. He was an avid and skilled hunter, and he built a small hunting camp outside of Middle Granville where he would spend as many hours as he could. For many years, he would get his first buck of the season on opening day.
In 1952, P.J. married the one and only love of his life, Elizabeth “Liz” Osborne George, with whom he had a loving marriage of almost 60 years. In the later years, P.J., with the help of his children, devoted himself unconditionally to caring for Liz as she suffered through the many painful stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
P.J.’s professional career involved working a series of full-time jobs while he continued to operate Kelly’s on nights and weekends. He spent more than 10 years with General Electric Co., where some of the welding and manufacturing techniques he pioneered are still in use, followed by more than 20 years in management with Norton Company. P.J. finally retired from the state of New York after more than 20 years at Washington Correctional Facility where he utilized his skills as a master craftsman to teach and rehabilitate. During his tenure, P.J. developed a mosaic flooring technique using carpet and tile and his artistic work is currently on display in firehouses and government facilities across the state, including the State Seal of New York used as a graduation backdrop for the Correctional Training Academy in Albany.
Late in life, while working full time and operating Kelly’s Tavern, P.J. achieved one of his life’s great ambitions returning to college and earning a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York in 1997.
At each step along the way P.J. earned the admiration, friendship and love of countless customers, co-workers, students, supervisors, classmates and teachers and was widely known for his generosity, quick wit, work ethic, common sense, optimism, and passion for life. P.J. also took great joy in the fact that, on numerous occasions, his former students from the correctional facility, and their parents, would contact him to tell him of the great impact his teaching had made on their lives.
P.J.’s most recent joys included frequent visits from his grandchildren, with whom he sang songs and shared bananas and Oreos as often as possible, sharing his wit and wisdom with his community of friends at Scotties, and taking Liz for long scenic drives through the countryside.
P.J. was predeceased by his brothers, Ed Kelly, John Kelly, Martin Kelly, William Kelly, Timothy Kelly, Phil Kelly, and Tom Kelly, and his sisters, Betty Duci, Anna Hughes, Catherine Donovan (Kitty Mae), Josephine Keefe and Margaret Aquiar.
Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth (George) Kelly of North Granville; his children, Patricia Kelly Baldera, her husband, Alfred, and their children Patrick and Alexander, and Rebecca Kelly, her children, Amy, Jennie, and John; his great-grandchildren, Nicholas, Sophia, and Elijah, Mark Z. Kelly, his wife, Paula, and children Amber and Hunter, and Christopher Kelly, his wife, Anne, and their daughters Emily, Catherine and Margaret; his brothers, Jim Kelly from Florida, and Craig Kelly and his wife, Eleanor, also of Middle Granville; his sister, Mary Pacyna of Schenectady; and friends, “Special” Son Thomas Dugan and Family, Nephew “Son” Patrick Kelly of Hudson Falls and Family, and close friends Michael and Larry Ritchie and Family, Ernie Wood and Family, and Josh Jackowski and Family.
A funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Mary‘s Catholic Church in Granville on Monday, Dec. 13, followed by burial.