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John R. Kelley

Dr. John R. Kelley, 74, of Marion, passed away Sunday, November 1, 2015 at St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids.

John was born to Dale and Catherine Kelley on March 13, 1941 in Hepburn, Iowa. He was baptized in the Methodist Church. After a few moves, his parents bought a farm near Graham, Missouri. John was in sixth grade at the time and his younger, and only sibling, Jerry, was in third grade.

An avid sports fan, John played baseball, basketball and fast-pitch softball at Graham High School. The latter he played until he was forty with a recreation league team which consisted mainly of school teachers. At Graham High, he was elected Student Council President and also developed his love of woodworking, which he continued throughout his life.

Upon his high school graduation in 1959, he attended Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri where he was a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. John's grandmother was the house mother.

In 1963 he received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and began his teaching career at Mount Ayr, Iowa, where he also coached baseball and basketball. While teaching, coaching, refereeing, and being a father, he commuted to Northwest Missouri State University where he received his Master of Science in Guidance and Counseling.

His life revolved around education and dedication to students. In 1974, he received his Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Iowa which led to him becoming the Director of Curriculum for the Fairfield School District, the Assistant Superintendent and subsequently, Superintendent of Schools in 1979. While at the University, he worked with school districts across Iowa via the newly installed campus main frame computer system. He took his computer knowledge to Fairfield where he championed the use of computers and technology in schools, including the early use of VisiCalc, the precursor to Excel, to manage the district budgets and later established the district's Local Area Network.

In the summer of 1964, he met Carolyn Pritchard, his wife of over fifty years. They were married July 31, 1965 at the First Baptist Church in Delphos, Iowa.

Among his many civic and professional associations, he was president of the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union, on the Board of Directors for the Fairfield Economic Development Association, President of the Fairfield Rotary Club and in his younger days, was active in the Mount Ayr Jaycee's. He was also a lifetime member of the Masons, the Fairfield Elks Club and belonged to the Fairfield Walton Golf Club where he enjoyed golf as well as using his love of math to play poker. Wherever he lived, he always found a group of friends who enjoyed the game as he did.

Beyond poker, he had many hobbies, including the restoration of a 1952 MG TD with his father in law, Charles Pritchard, and traveling to numerous car shows throughout the Midwest where he competed with his brother-in-law Bill Pritchard and his MG. He never forgot his farm roots and enjoyed working with his son Doug on his hobby farm in southern Iowa where he kept his restored, 1954 Ford 860 tractor. Upon inheriting his parents 1951 Ford 8N, he had it restored and enjoyed showing it at local events as well as using it to push mountains of snow. He also enjoyed gardening with his wife, most recently at Squaw Creek Gardens near his home in Marion.

John is survived by his wife Carolyn, son Jonathan and wife Deanna, of Highland Village, Texas, son Douglas and his wife Sara, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and five grandchildren, Emma, Payson, Brianna, Aidan and Zane. The five grandchildren were very special to john. He loved watching all of their activities, in person where he would time running events to cheering them on over FaceTime. He is also survived by his brother Jerry and wife Joyce, and brother-in-law Bill and wife Kay.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to University of Iowa Dance Marathon, a philanthropy which had a special place in his heart and is dedicated to supporting oncology patients at The University of Iowa Children's Hospital, at http://tinyurl.com/JohnRKelley. Donations can also be made out to UI Dance Marathon with John Kelley Memorial in the memo line, and mailed to UI Dance Marathon, 145 Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa City, IA 52242.

Private services have been held in Mount Ayr, Iowa. Burial is in Rose Hill Cemetery.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Kelley, please visit our flower store.


I am so sorry to hear this. Dr. Kelley was my superintendent while teaching in Fairfield.

Posted by A friend   November 20, 2015

Nov 30 0001 12:00 AM

So sorry to hear of John''s passing. We truly enjoyed his tenure here at Lena-Winslow school district. He was just what our district needed at the time he was here. Enjoyed the get togethers we had at your home in Lena. His dedication to students of all ability levels was much appreciated. God''s grace be with you and your family during this difficult time. Deepest sympathy. John L

Posted by John Leuenberger - Winslow, IL   November 16, 2015

Nov 30 0001 12:00 AM

John''s passing was a surprise, as I''d not seen much of him for several years - was so very sorry to read of it, and you are all in my thoughts and prayers. May your memories of him bring you comfort, and the love you share bring you peace in the days ahead. I went to Graham High a few years behind John, and we lived about 4 miles apart in the country. John usually appeared quiet and studious, but he had a cheerful grin and a twinkle in his eye that indicated he enjoyed a little mischief too. May he rest in peace - and I hope they have poker games in Heaven!

Posted by Burdette & Gayle Bond - Graham, MO - Friend   November 08, 2015

Nov 30 0001 12:00 AM

Carolyn, Jonathan and Doug, my sincere condolences for your great loss of a husband and dad. Prayers are being spoken for peace and comfort during this difficult time.

Posted by Jan Pritchard Witthaus - Sun Prairie, WI   November 05, 2015

Nov 30 0001 12:00 AM

Carolyn, Many years ago my Aunt Marge (Mom''s Sister) described a relative''s passing as a "low blow" and I have never forgotten it. That is exactly how I feel about your loss, and I am so sorry that John''s life was cut short by this devastating illness. He was such a great guy and I know that he will be missed by many. Our sincere condolences to you and your family.

Dave and Lil Polley

Posted by A friend   November 05, 2015

Nov 30 0001 12:00 AM

Carolyn and Family, Am very sorry for your loss. John was always such a nice guy. David and I were just talking about your family the other day and when you lived next door to us. Thinking of you

Posted by Diane Buck-Zollman - IA   November 05, 2015

Nov 30 0001 12:00 AM

So sorry to hear of Dr. Kelley''s passing. Prayers for your family during this difficult time.

Posted by Shawna Applegate - Fairfield, IA   November 05, 2015

Nov 30 0001 12:00 AM

May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.

Posted by Steve Crile - Fairfield, IA   November 05, 2015

Nov 30 0001 12:00 AM

Sorry to hear the news of his passing. I appreciate the start he gave me in education. To his family, you have my prayers.

Posted by Brad Rose - West Des Moines, Iowa, IA   November 05, 2015

Nov 30 0001 12:00 AM

Carolyn, I have just returned to Iowa Tuesday and was given the news via Mary Kay and your son''s friend Lorena. November 1 is All Saint''s day in Catholic faith I am sosorry and disappointed I do not have your current phone number. Eternal Rest grant unto John Oh Lord and may you and your family have peace. Love Mary Ann

Posted by A friend   November 05, 2015

Nov 30 0001 12:00 AM

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