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In Memoriam: John Kelly

In memory of John Kelly

It is with tremendous sadness that we share the news that beloved Southwest Seattle Historical Society supporter and volunteer John Kelly passed away on February 20, 2021, at age 99.

John was born June 7, 1921 in their West Seattle. Growing up, he enjoyed many hours on the beaches and waters of Puget Sound. He graduated from West Seattle High School in 1939 then trained in boat building. He joined the Army in 1943 serving in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

After the war, John married Elizabeth Hamilton, with whom he raised four children. He studied at the University of Washington and moved into professional life as a naval architect/marine engineer, retiring after 33 years at MARCO Seattle Shipyard. After Elizabeth’s death he married Jackie Carey who joined him in a busy retirement, traveling and staying involved with family and many community interests.

Among John’s many interests were local history and he was an active and early supporter of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. As a member of the Historical Society’s Founder’s Circle, John’s generosity helped to make the Log House Museum a reality. He shared his knowledge of the history of West Seattle as a Historical Society volunteer, educating audiences and inspiring participants at events and programs, and contributed his time, passion, and knowledge to projects like indexing the book West Side Story. In addition to his efforts to support the Historical Society, John shared his enthusiasm for history and commitment to community as a volunteer at other local organizations, including Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society West Seattle Lions Club, and the Sea Scouts where he volunteered with the SSS Yankee Clipper

John left an indelible imprint on the Historical Society and our community. The Historical Society’s board, staff, and volunteers are grateful for his passion, generosity, and knowledge. He is greatly missed and we extend our heartfelt condolences to all of John’s family and friends.


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