James Kelly, 86, of Middletown Township, died on February 13 after a lengthy illness. Born in New York City, Jim had lived in Middletown since 1962.
Jim joined Occidental Petroleum Co. in 1961, and, after serving in a number of roles of increasing responsibility, retired in 1987 as manager of the company’s pilot plant facility in Harrison, NJ.
Jim had a beautiful tenor voice and enjoyed singing as a member of the Middletown Community Chorus and the Monmouth Civic Chorus. He also loved the challenge of learning how things worked, and was adept at repairing everything from automobiles to clocks to hand looms.
In retirement, Jim pursued his interest in sailing, photography and personal computers, as well as his commitment to lifelong learning via the ceramics, photography and weaving courses he took at Brookdale Community College.
Jim was a U.S. Navy veteran who served aboard the U.S.S. Flint in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He was aboard the ship in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed on the U.S.S. Missouri, which was anchored nearby. Upon his discharge from the Navy in 1946, he worked as a pressman for the New York Daily News and attended Pratt Institute, where he earned a degree in leather chemistry. He subsequently worked for Ellithorp Tanning Co. in Gloversville, New York, and Robson Leather Co. in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, before joining Occidental.
Jim is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marge; his daughter Lauren Kelly; his son and daughter-in-law Kevin and Karen Kelly; his daughter and son-in-law Elizabeth and Barlow Peelle; four grandchildren; his brother and sister-in-law John and Diane Kelly, and two nephews and three nieces.
A gathering of family and friends to honor Jim’s life is planned for a future date.
In lieu of flowers, the family would welcome contributions in Jim’s memory to Westminster Presbyterian Church, 94 Tindall Rd., Middletown, NJ 07748, or Meridian Health Foundation (in support of Meridian at Home Hospice), 1345 Campus Parkway, Suite A2, Neptune, NJ 07753-9930.