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Ron Kelly

April 10, 1960 January 5, 2019
Ron Kelly
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Obituary for Ron Kelly

Ronald W. Kelly, 58, of Pekin passed away on Saturday, January 5, 2019 at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

"What you say about his company is what you say about society. Catch the witness, catch the wit. Catch the spirit, catch the spit. The world is, the world is. Love and life are deep. Maybe as his eyes are wide."

If you know that Rush verse, you know my dad, Ron Kelly. And if you know Ron, even in the universal sense, you’re upset to hear he passed away from stroke on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. He wouldn’t want you to feel heartache about it, though. Here are some beautiful things we can all reference when we feel sad about it. You should buy a newspaper, clip this obituary, laminate it and put it somewhere important. Maybe your fridge. Ron put lots of things on the fridge.

Ron Kelly’s Family’s Top 6 Reasons Not to Be Sad About Ron’s Death

• Miracle on Glen Oak Avenue: When OSF Medical Center in Peoria, Ill., delivers a baby, they play Brahms’ Lullaby over the intercom. That song played as 6:15pm CT as Ron took his last breath, surrounded by his family. Even he would’ve said, “Whoa, can you believe this?!”
• Loves It When They Call Him Big Poppa (and Grand Poppa): Ron and Kim have three sons: Jason, Matt and Adam. Many fathers will tell you their children are their greatest achievement in life. Ron would say the same. Over the past few years, Ron has become a grandfather to three beautiful kids: two boys and a girl. This confirmed two things: 1) Ron had a way to make children stop crying and loved to brag about it to Kim. And 2) He was the coolest grandpa who ever lived.
• Forever Young(ish): Ron was born on April 10, 1960, in Peoria, Ill., which means he died at 58. That seems sad, but it’s not! Ron’s oldest son Jason has three kids, whom Ron played games with until his last day. He still played softball and frisbee with his three sons, Jason, Matt and Adam. He could throw two frisbees with one hand and play catch with two people at once. He still chased his rescue cat “Precious” around the house for pets. He was still 4:20-friendly … OK, OK – a little more than friendly ;-).
• In the Navy: In the most patriotic act of rebellion since the Boston Tea Party, Ron joined the Navy to spite his dad who had served in the Army AND Marines. Ron was stationed in San Diego, where he was part of the inaugural crew who launched the USS McKee. This made him a 6’5” man who’d walk around the house wearing a huge Navy ship belt buckle. His sons rarely misbehaved.
• Workin’ for a Livin’: Legend has it that Ron had more than 40 jobs throughout his life. He has spent the past two decades as a caregiver helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, most recently at EP!C in Peoria, Ill. When his colleagues and bosses came to see him in the ICU, they shared stories about how Ron could break through, gain trust and help his clients in ways that nobody else could. He found purpose in EP!C, and it was his second family.
• How Cool Was Ron? See photo.

Other Important, but Not-As-Entertaining Stuff:
Ron is survived by his loving, courageous and artistic wife, Kimberly Kelly, to whom he was married for 32 years; his sons, Jason, Matt and Adam; his grandchildren, Jordan, Jaxon and Jaylyn; his little brother, Mike; and his beautiful but shy cat, Precious, who would wait in the window for Ron to come home each morning after work.

Preceding Ron in death are his mom, Bette Kelly-Martin, who was one of the first female foremen at Caterpillar; his dad, William “Bill” Kelly, whose military service allowed Ron to grow up all over Europe; his great-grandpa, William “Bill” Gohl, who was so critical in helping Ron become the man he was; many pets who gave him, his wife and sons immeasurable love over the years, including but not limited to a family of Shih-Tzus: Mugsy, Mitsy, Scarlett, Sweet Pea and Dottie; and a large but beautiful grey male tabby, Ollie.

Ron also loved the Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Cardinals, Barack Obama, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, helping people, rescuing animals and the – er, umm – medicinal benefits of cannabis.

The family asks everyone who knew Ron to bring food to a potluck dinner to celebrate his life and share stories 5-8pm CT on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, at the Pavilion on the Lagoon in Mineral Springs Park, Pekin, Ill.

In lieu of flowers, Ron’s family asks for donations to EP!C, where he worked to help individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, to be made in his memory: https://epicci.org/donate/.


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