Cover photo for Eugene Kelly's Obituary
Eugene Kelly Profile Photo
Eugene

Eugene Kelly

December 31, 1946

Eugene "Gene" Kelly was born May 13, 1924 to Ross Russell and Maymie Marvinac Kelly near Downs, Kansas.   His father died when he was 2 years old and he lived his early years in and near Osborne, Kansas with his mother and grandparents. Later he moved with his mother to Jamestown, Kansas. He attended the Jamestown Public School and graduated from Jamestown High School in 1943. With the outbreak World War II he enlisted in the United States Navy in the fall of 1943 and served in both the European and Pacific Theaters . Gene ran a Landing Craft Mechanized and participated in both the Normandy Invasion on Omaha Beach and the Okinawa Invasion as well as others. He described these as perilous times for all involved. In April of 1946 with the war ended he returned home and on December 31, 1946 he married Marcelle Christensen. On December 13, 1947 twin sons, Howard and Harold were born to this union but sadly both mother and infant son Harold passed from their earthly existence on that day. Gene was at this time engaged in farming with his step-father north of Courtland and on May 1, 1949 he was joined in marriage to Velma Gates in Belleville, Kansas . 19 month old son Howard was welcomed to the family and to this union 2 daughters, Carol Jean and Linda were born. Gene and Velma remained on the farm north of Courtland until 1952 when they moved to Jamestown, Kansas From 1952 -1962 along with his farming he engaged in the business of custom combining from Oklahoma through the Dakota's with many interesting stories to tell. I t was hard and dirty work in those days but he never complained. He retired from the custom combining business and in 1962 when they moved back to the farm north of Courtland where they have resided since. Gene continued his passion of farming and added a hog farrowing operation to his business. About this time he also began driving a school bus for the Courtland and Pike Valley School District. He loved this job and spent many hours transporting children to and from school and also activities. This allowed him to stay in touch with the children and activities long after his own children graduated and were gone. Never a ball game was missed if he could help it. He continued with the district for 39 unblemished and accident free years. He was beloved by many of his students to this very day. Most of them fondly remember "Mr. Kelly" as he kept a pocket full of Werthers candy and freely slipped it into many little hands as they departed his bus. Gene was a lifetime member of the VFW Post 588, past Commander of the Republic American Legion and a past President of the Rural Water District. He was a member of the Memorial Covenant Church, Courtland, KS. He loved to play any kind of cards and was often on the winning end of a game, by hook or by crook ! He had a great passion for the out of doors and along with his sidekicks hunted the Black Mesa in Colorado for deer for a number of years.   Canada soon became the destination of choice for him and his buddies for the great fishing. His grandsons all eagerly waited the magic age of 12 when Grandpa Kelly would take them along on their first trip to Canada to fish for "the biguns" with him.   The tall tales he could spin of the ones that got away are memorable to today. Among his favorite times were the hours spent in the high bleachers, or running the chain so he would not miss a play, watching his grandsons play football or the front row seat he occupied for their basketball games. When his last granddaughter came along, volleyball also came into his life. In his later years, Gene was an avid gardener, not so much for eating it himself, but for sharing and many in the community will recall his sweet corn that he loved to pass around . Gene was a wonderful teacher to not only his children but his grandchildren also, from farming to mechanics, to woodworking and building you can see his teaching and talents in each and every one. Among his many talents was that of carpentry and he loved his shop. Each of us can look around and see something he made for our home.   His children and grandchildren learned at his knee the art of crafting fine things. There wasn't anything he could not or would not construct. One of his favorite things to make were small ornaments and decorations that he and Velma painstakingly painted and gifted to the bus drivers at their Christmas Party every year. Everyone looked forward to what was coming when he showed up, always with that mischievous twinkle in his eye as he slipped something in your hand or set it at your plate.   The Kelly Farm was a showplace with him and Velma's meticulous upkeep......no junk piles there. They were neat and tidy around every building and in every space. In May of 2011 the dreaded diagnosis of cancer struck, but as always, Gene took it with grace and ease and taught those around him incredible lessons of patience and courage as he succumbed to the disease over the next 6 months. Never did he get angry or utter a word of discouragement nor did he ever complain. He loved his caregivers and though stubborn because of his pride at times, he was always kind and he would flashed that warm smile he had and have a story to tell or a trick to play. The remote control was never far from his hand and he was in control of the television for sure. Gene passed from his earthly existence in the early morning hours of October, 29, 2011 at his home north of Courtland surrounded by those who loved him best. He is survived by his wife, Velma of 62 years, of the home. A son, Howard and wife Bev of Ocotillo, California: daughter Carol Jean and husband Dennis of Republic: daughter Linda and husband Dwight of Courtland and his brother Ross Kelly and wife Maxine of Glasco, KS.; 8 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren , 2 great-great grandchildren; several step-grandchildren and step great grandchildren: nieces and nephews and many friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, his grandparents, his in-laws, first wife Marcelle, infant son Harold, infant granddaughter Kirsten Marcelle Kelly, aunts , uncles, cousins and friends. He will be greatly missed by all who loved him and all who knew him. Funeral services were held Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at the Covenant church in Courtland, Kansas with Pastor Chuck Peters officiating. Burial was in the Courtland Cemetery with Military Rites provided by the U.S. Navel honor Guard and the American Legion Post 76 and V.F.W. Post 588 of Concordia, Kansas. Memorials may be made to the Gene Kelly Pike Valley Scholarship Fund. Tibbetts-Fischer Funeral Home, Belleville, Kansas was entrusted with these arrangements.

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