Don Jay Kelly

Published 12:40 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Don Jay Kelly, 84, passed away at the Smith Phayer Hospice House in Landrum on Jan. 10, 2011. He was born in Caro, Mich., in 1926 and lived most of his life in the “thumb” area of Michigan, including Caro, Flint, Bridgeport and Frankenmuth. In 1977 he and his family moved to Columbus. He was preceded in death by his much-loved wife, Margaret “Maggie” (Saxton) Kelly in 2005.

Don defined himself as an architect, an admirer of good design and jazz, but mostly as a lover of friends and family, by words and deeds. Interests included travel, flying, motorcycling, and seeing U of M beat Ohio or MSU in football.

After finishing high school in Flint, he joined the Navy in ‘44 and was in Hawaii when the war ended. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in architecture in 1951, the same year he married Maggie. After a series of design partnerships with Red Beach, Dave Walsh and Bill Stenglein he had a solo practice through the 1970s and also mentored architect Gerald Zeitler, now of Arkansas. He served as president of the Saginaw Chapter of the AIA in the late 1960s.

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Don is survived by son Jay Saxton Kelly, wife Kim and grandson Aaron of Wilmington, N.C., and daughter Shawn (Kelly) Matthew and her husband John of Columbus. Also surviving is Don’s only brother, Bob Kelly and wife Hugh Anne of Palmetto, Fla. In addition, survivors include nephews Bob Kelly Jr. and family of Bradenton, Fla., Bill Kelly and family also of Bradenton, nephew Walt Kelly and family of Colorado Springs, Colo., and niece Lynne (Kelly) Cline and husband of Gilbert, Ariz.

The family held a simple memorial service for him in Columbus on Jan. 14, but a true celebration of his life is planned for sometime in June in Columbus.

Memorials may be made to Town of Columbus-Veteran’s Park, P.O. Box 146. Columbus, N.C. 28722.