John Robert Kelley

January 14, 2011 

John Robert Kelley

January 14, 2011 

Obituary for John Robert Kelley

John Robert “Bob” Kelley
John Robert "Bob" Kelley, 88, possessed the most unique sense of humor of anyone on earth. People who knew him or read his "Letters to the Editor" in the Kansas City Star will recall his irony and blistering wit, though underneath it all, he felt profound compassion for people and animals.

Bob was born July 16, 1922 in Batavia, New York. His family relocated to Kansas City when he was a young boy. He attended St. Peter's grade school and Rockhurst High School. He was known in the city as an outstanding athlete, and to this day, Rockhurst High School displays numerous trophies with his name and achievements in football, basketball, and track. He attended Iowa State University, School of Engineering where he joined Delta Chi fraternity.

He proudly served as an officer in WWII with the Maritime Services for four and a half years. Following the service, he became an engineer, and worked professionally for over fifty years for several large corporations. During this time, he specialized in industrial safety, which enhanced his career opportunities.

In addition to his profession, he and his wife became nationally renowned creators of Folk Art for thirty years. He was the woodworker behind the art, and she was the painter; they became quite famous, having had their folk art displayed at the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City. Their works were featured in magazines, books, and used as props in several movies. Their "Dove of Peace" is included in the White House Presidential collection.

He was a magician with woodcraft. He turned a fallen tree from Loose Park into a prayer bench. He made a wedding table out of a barn door. He built end tables out of pasta boards, and he created wooden decoys from golf club drivers. He formed wooden angel relics and he gave them to grieving parish members of Visitation Catholic Church.

Bob struggled through multiple illnesses during the past ten years. He prevailed through it all with courage, dignity, and invincible wit. Bob survived several falls, but he fell for the last time and was admitted to Luke's Hospital, where he died of complications on Friday, January 14th, 2011. He was 88 years old. Contributions may be sent in his honor to A.S.P.C.A., American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 424 E. 92nd St., New York, NY 10128-6804 or to Visitation Church, 5141 Main St, Kansas City, MO 64112.

Bob is survived by Barbara Kelley, his wife of 64 years, his three children: Capt. Kathleen Kelley USNR (Ret) R.N. (Capt. Brayton Harris, USN, Ret.), Mission Hills, Kansas; Janice (Gigi) Downey, M.D., Westwood Hills, Kansas, and Michael Kelley, Artist and Graphic Designer (Janet Kelley, Esq.), Grand Rapids, Michigan, and by his grandchildren, Kelley Downey, Fairway, Kansas and Christina Kelley, St. Louis,
Missouri and step granddaughter, Meghan Peters, Atlanta, Georgia. Finally, he is survived by his best friend and beloved Doberman pinscher, Rocky.
Visitation will be from 6:00 to 8:00pm, Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at Muehlebach Funeral Home, 6800 Troost Ave, Kansas City, Mo where the rosary will be prayed at 6:00pm. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:00am, Wednesday at Visitation Church, 5141 Main St., Kansas City, MO.

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  • 6800 Troost Ave
    Kansas City, MO
    64131-1560
  • 816-444-2060

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