These remarks were delivered at Frank Kelly’s memorial service in Santa Barbara, California on July 16, 2010.
We are here today to remember a good and decent man, who lived a long life with many notable achievements. It is not so much what he accomplished, though, as how he lived that makes his life a powerful lesson and one worth celebrating.
Frank was a very dear friend, the kind of friend that one is graced to have. I first met Frank when Carolee and I came to Santa Barbara and I worked at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. We shared the experience of being a part of that remarkable organization headed by Robert Hutchins. That was 38 years ago.
Ten years later, in 1982, Frank and I would work together to found the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Over the 28 years that the Foundation has existed, we were very close, conferring on our work on nearly a daily basis. For many years before Barbara’s death, Frank and Barbara and Carolee and I shared our birthdays together.
Frank was a unique individual who lived a unique life. Here are some of the characteristics that impressed me about Frank:
He was always generous with his smiles and his praise.
He always managed to find and encourage the best in each person he knew.
He believed that all of us are, in his special language, “glorious beings.”
He recognized that each of us is a miracle and should be celebrated as such.
He was optimistic that a better world was possible and could be achieved.
He believed that each of us deserves a seat at humanity’s table.
He felt the world needed far more women as leaders at all levels of society, and he was as insistent as he was persistent in urging leadership roles for women.
He was a loyal and devoted husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and friend. He was proud of his children and grandchildren and delighted by his new great-grandson.
He was a sparkling storyteller and had a rich storehouse of memories to draw upon, ranging from his childhood memories of his father coming home from World War I, to his days at the Kansas City Star, to speechwriting for President Truman, to his work as the assistant to the Senate Majority Leader, and his close relationship to Robert Hutchins and many other luminaries of the 20th century.
He loved music of all sorts, and had a special fondness for Louis Armstrong’s rendition of “It’s a Wonderful World.” He also loved the special concerts that his son Stephen performed for him and was Stephen’s greatest fan.
Frank had a deep spirituality – a spirituality rooted in our connections with each other, with the Earth, and with the infinite.
Most of all, Frank was an advocate of joy, and he loved these lines by William Blake, “He who kisses joy as it flies lives in eternity’s sunrise.” William Blake might well have envisioned Frank as he wrote those lines.
Frank will live on in the hearts of those who admired and loved him and in the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future.
I hesitate to say farewell to Frank, as I believe his spirit will remain with us in our efforts to create a more peaceful and decent future for humanity. If we can build some joy into our efforts, I think we can be assured that Frank will be smiling down on us.