‘Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”
/St. Francis of Assisi/
Vincent Peter Kelly, beloved father, stepfather, step grandfather, step great-grandfather, brother-in-law, uncle, great uncle and cousin, passed away peacefully on Dec. 15, in Richardson, Texas.
Vince was born in Weehawken, N.J. on Aug. 29, 1930, to Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly and Mary “Molly” Kelly nee Earley, the first of the Kelly children to be born in the United States. He was proud to have been born near the place where Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton.
After an adventurous childhood that taught him to smoke at the age of six and switch schools and curriculums speedily and legendarily, he graduated with his B.S. from Manhattan College in New York City, his M.A. from Hunter College and his B.L. from the University of San Marcos, Peru. Upon meeting his first wife, Rita Mae Cawley and, as legend says, charming her to no end with his Spanish language skills, the couple married on June 2, 1962. After marriage, Vince received his Ph.D. from Indiana University.
In 1969, the couple adopted their first child, Patrick Joseph Kelly, who survives him. Three years later, in 1972, the Kelly's adopted an infant daughter, Kathleen Theresa Kelly, who passed away in 2011. After spending the first 20 years of their marriage near or on the East Coast, in 1982 the couple, moved to Tempe, Arizona and in 1996 to Richardson, Texas, where Rita passed away in 2001.
A few years later, Vince swept Thelma Noreen (Teddy) Condrin Devine off her feet at a Richardson dance floor, and after a short dancing courtship, they married on March 11, 2006. Teddy preceded Vince in death on Jan. 27, 2019.
Vince’s life story presents a compendium of professions and occupations: he taught, he had his own show on a local TV station, he worked to improve the lives of those less fortunate or those whose lives have had historically mattered less in the United States. But most of all, his life was an invaluable compendium itself of values and passions: justice and almsgiving, music and dance, integrity and inclusion, literature and theology, family and friends, faith and questioning of the church.
As his sister’s son, Paul, said in his prayer at Vince’s memorial, Vince “remained hopeful and kept his faith in God despite the loss of his voice; the passing of all his siblings, older and younger, the loss of his wives and of his daughter.”
After receiving earlier his last rites, on the morning of his death Vince winked at the attending nurse and asked for some Irish whiskey. She smiled. In the Irish language, whiskey is ‘uisce beatha,’ which translates as ‘the water of life’.
Life for Vince often meant the road less travelled -- some trips were long and meandering, while some were unexpectedly short, but all were an adventure into the layers of life. And so those memories of Vince will stay with those who survive him: his son and daughter-in-law, Patrick and Lidia Kelly, his stepdaughter Kathleen Devine Aycox and her husband Clete Aycox, his stepdaughter Mariann, his step daughter-in-law Judy Devine and their families, the families of his first wife and the families of his siblings.
The Wise Guys of Richardson and his friends there will miss him dearly, as will those who worked for St. Vincent de Paul, and those who were helped by them. The St. Paul choir, the Knights of Columbus, and his large circle of family and friends all over the world will feel the loss equally. But he would like us to stay hopeful and joyful, so if you get a chance, do raise that glass of the Irish whiskey in his memory and in the memory of his life:
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