William R. “Bill” Kelly, 75, of Dubuque, Iowa passed away on January 1, 2021 at home surrounded by family after a courageous four-year battle with cancer.
A mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, January 7, 2021 at St. Joseph Church Key West with Rev. Rodney Allers officiating. Family and friends may gather after 9:00 a.m. at the church until time of mass. Entombment will follow at Mount Olivet Cemetery Chapel Mausoleum with military honors by the Dubuque Marine Corps League and the Tri-State Vietnam Veterans. A live stream of the funeral mass will be on Leonard Funeral Home & Crematory’s Facebook page. A Celebration of Life gathering will be at a later date when it is safe to hug one another.
Bill was born on May 8, 1945 in Dubuque, Iowa the son of Philip and Irene (Kopp) Kelly. He attended St. Mary’s grade school and Wahlert High School prior to enlisting in the US Navy. He served in the Navy from 1962 to 1966 and was honorably discharged with the rank of E4.
He married Joan Ward and together they had two sons, Daniel and Mitch.
Bill worked in various construction trades and started as an apprentice electrician with Ullrich Electrical, installed cabling for the Dubuque Cable Company, a few years later worked for his brother’s company Dubuque Painting & Decorating/Kelly Construction, he also was a technician for Neises Telephone, and eventually ended his work career when he retired from Swiss Colony where he was a fork truck operator.
Bill was an avid Iowa Hawkeye fan and had a very active social life. His favorite hangout was Happy’s Place where he would often “volunteer” to help with the summer steak cookouts or could be found enjoying a cold one and giving his familiar smile and a heartfelt “hello” to all who walked in. He enjoyed playing cards with many of his Keywest friends, going on annual golf trips and played in the Zwingle softball league and endured several consecutive losing seasons but the team went undefeated in winning the “beer cup” award. Bill was a dedicated grandfather and enjoyed watching his grandchildren’s sporting events which included soccer, swimming, baseball, track, and many school activities. He passed along his passion for deer hunting to his sons and had many entertaining stories about the hunting adventures he would get into with his brother-in-law Billy, Ray Payne, and nephews Mike & Mark. When Bill did venture outside of Iowa, it was often to go see his closest and longtime friend Ron Hass. Some of the other organizations that Bill was a member of include the Dubuque Boat Club where he served as the commodore, and The American Legion.
He is survived by his two sons Daniel (Carrie) Kelly and Mitch (Julie) Kelly; grandchildren, Shawna (Nick), Yvette (Justin), Chelsea (Peter), Reed, Cooper, Landon and Sawyer. Along with his longtime significant other Carol Bandy and her family. His sister Karen Payne, sister-in-law Alice Kelly along with numerous nieces and nephews.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Richard “Dick” Kelly, brother-in-law William “Billy” Payne and former wife Joan.
In lieu of flowers a Bill Kelly memorial fund will be established.
The family would like to thank Dr. Engelman and his team and Hospice of Dubuque for all their wonderful care, kindness, and compassion they gave to Bill and his family. And lastly, we want to thank his good friend Pat Leonard who helped Bill plan and organize his final wishes.
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