Obituary of Mr. George W. Kelly

April 7, 2020

On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, George William Kelly, loving husband and father, passed away from the coronavirus after a four-year fight with cancer. He was 92.

George was born August 21, 1927 to James Lamar Kelly and Laurie Kelly (née Brantley) in Evergreen, Alabama. George was the second youngest of his siblings, Dorothy, James, Charles, and Robert. Their father was a lawyer and held the Conecuh County Seat.

In World War II, George enlisted in the Army Air Corps (the precursor to the Air Force) and was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska. After the war, he received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University through the G.I. Bill. He also completed post-graduate coursework in Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Upon finishing his studies, George travelled extensively in India in the 1950's, working as a freelance journalist. His travels eventually ended in New York City, first in the East Village and later in Yorkville, where he lived the rest of his life. His time in New York saw many chapters that combined his passions for science, cooking, traveling, and writing. He researched at an electron microscopy laboratory at New York University, owned a retail shop importing Indian fighter kites (Go Fly a Kite), owned a cookbook shop--complete with a mascot named Cookie the Minah Bird (Cookbooks Only), worked as a public relations director at the Brooklyn Children's Museum, and edited a real estate publication called the Red Book for Yale Robbins Publications. George was also a prolific author of poems, stories, songs, and most notably, children's books. His children's publications include "What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with All Those Teeth?", and "Santa Christina and her Sled Dogs", which was inspired by his time in Alaska.

In 1967, Jain Wright walked into George's kite store during her first week in New York. She, too, had attended Northwestern University, and before long George had asked her to a German restaurant down the street for dinner. They were married on Jain's birthday in 1969, and raised one daughter, Georgette. In March 2020, Jain and George celebrated 51 years of marriage.

George is preceded in death by his parents and siblings. He is survived by his wife Jain Kelly, daughter Georgette Kelly (m. Annaliisa Ahlman) of Chicago, and many beloved nieces and nephews...and great-nieces and great-nephews.

A small family service will be held in May at St. James' Episcopal Church (865 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021), and recorded for those unable to attend in person. George's ashes will be interred at both St. James' and Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate, Kentucky.

In lieu of flowers, donations in George's memory can be made to help in the fight against the coronavirus. Suggested organizations include:

Covid Tech Connect (

Mount Sinai Hospital (

Frenchy Coffee, a local shop providing food to healthcare workers (

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My thoughts are with you during this time. I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Uncle George, but I remember his smile & how I always looked forward to seeing him when he came to Alabama. Love to you all.

Posted by: Patricia Parrish - Indian Land, SC - April 16, 2020

I will always remember George's friendly smiling face whenever we met on the stairs or outside our apartment building.My thoughts and prayers are with you Jain and Georgette. May he rest peacefully.

Posted by: Robert Abdoo - New York, NY - April 17, 2020