Obituary of Jane P. Kelley

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Jane P. Kelley

February 7, 1926 - April 20, 2010

Hampton Union, Friday, April 23, 2010

HAMPTON -- Jane P. Kelley, 84, died Tuesday, April 20, 2010, at her home.

She is survived by one son and his wife, Frank and Phyllis Kelley of Melbourne Beach, Fla.; two daughters, Melissa M. Kelley of Hampton and Anne M. Kelley of Maui,Hawaii; and one great-grandson, Trevor M. Papachristos.

She was predeceased by one, son, John M. Kelley; and one granddaughter, Nicole K. Papachristos.

SERVICES: Memorial services will be held Saturday, May 1, at 2 p.m. in Little Grace Chapel, 64 Winnacunnet Road, Hampton.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may b e made to Rockingham VNA & Hospice, 137 Epping Road, Exeter, NH 03833.

Assistance with the arrangements was by the Stockbridge Funeral Home, Exeter.

Hampton's Longtime Town Clerk
and Legislator Jane Kelley Dies at 84

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, April 27, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
State Rep. Jane Kelley wears her name tag from 1975, when she was first elected. [file photo]

HAMPTON -- Jane Kelley was remembered this week as someone who always made people laugh with her unconventional sense of humor, whether it was hosting her own party to raise funds for her cremation or flying what might have been a former selectmen's pants on the Town Hall flag pole at half staff.

The former longtime town clerk and Hampton state representative died last Tuesday, April 20 at her home at the age of 84.

Friends, family and even a few people who often found themselves as the butt of her jokes recalled a woman who truly did things her way and lived life to the fullest.

"She was a true icon of Hampton," said former Selectman Ginny Bridle-Russell.

Kelley was elected Hampton town clerk six times for a total of 18 years, retiring in 1995. She served as one of Hampton's state representatives from 1975 to 1976, 1995 to 2004 and again 2006 to 2007.

Kelley was also a justice of the peace, operating out of the Little Grace Chapel, which she built in her back yard on Winnacunnet Road.

Arleen Andreozzi, former Hampton town clerk who served under Kelley as her deputy, said there was never a dull moment in the office when Kelley was there.

"Exuberant," said Andreozzi, of the one word that best described Kelley. "There was always something going on when she was there."

Andreozzi recalled she would often bring her dog to work, where she would "train" him.

"There would be little piles in the back office," she said.

Kelley was also known for her practical jokes, including gluing the town suggestion box shut and getting a stamp made up that said "free beer" and stamping the selectmen's agenda that was displayed at the town office.

Former Selectman Art Moody recalled he was often the butt of Kelley's jokes.

"One day we were doing inventory in the old vault at the town office and my pants slipped down," Moody said. "The next time I went in there, she had these colorful briefs she bought me so it would be 'something better to look at' she said."

Kelley took her sense of humor everywhere she went.

When she first ran for state representative, Kelley went door-to-door passing out more than 1,300 jars of pickles and jellies that she had preserved, using the slogan, "Get New Hampshire out of this jam" or "... out of this pickle."

She also founded the Daughters of the Potato Famine in the 1970s as a joke when her political opponent at the time, Republican state Rep. Ednapearl Parr, made note of her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.

"She appointed herself 'Supreme High Spud,'"‰" said Moody, who noted what started as joke became an organization with more than 600 members.

When she retired as town clerk in 1995, town officials wanted to throw her a banquet but she decided it would more fun to have it at McDonald's in Seabrook.

"It isn't worth all that money to go to a stupid testimonial for three hours," Kelley told the Hampton Union in 1995.

But what she did for the town and at the State House level was no joke said those who served with her.

As a state representative, Kelley told the Hampton Union in 2006 she was most proud of her work for labor unions and getting the state to recognize the holiday for Martin Luther King Jr., which it adopted in 1999.

An honoree member of the Teamsters and Professional Firefighters Association, Kelley said she acquired her interest in organized labor from her grandfather, Francis Patrick Sullivan, a working-class steamfitter, who "appreciated everything the union ever did for him."

Dave Lang, current president of the professional firefighters union, said Kelley was instrumental in getting public employees collective bargaining rights.

He also recalled the time when she shut down the town clerk's office to join firefighters on the picket line.

"When we inducted her as an honorary member, she told a story that had everyone laughing for 15 minutes non-stop and turned my red face, which was really a difficult thing to do," Lang recalled.

He said Kelley was a "die-hard" Democrat who stood by her convictions.

Kelley switched from a Democrat to Republican in 2001, only because she wanted to continue to serve on the House Labor Committee.

She returned to being a Democrat when she ran in 2006.

"You did not have to go far to know what Jane Kelley was thinking," Lang said. "And if she liked you, there was nothing bad going to happen to you and if she didn't like you, God help you. I can be assured when she gets to the Pearly Gates, God is going to be standing there saying 'I want you on my side Jane.'"

Not everyone got Kelley's humor. Sometimes it was hard to know whether she was kidding or telling the truth. For instance, a Portsmouth Herald reporter did not get the joke at Kelley's cremation party that she was dying of nose cancer, and reported it as fact.

"That was funny," said Kelley during a 2006 interview. She said the party was to poke fun at politicians who were having fund-raisers at the time that were ethically and legally questionable. "The story was even picked up by USA Today. It was a great sob story, but it wasn't true."

In 2004, when legislators' fund-raising activities were getting close scrutiny, Kelley revealed in disclosure documents that she received a $100 check from Pope John Paul and one pound of sterling from Queen Elizabeth.

Kelley resigned as state representative in 2007 due to illness.

A Hampton resident for more than 40 years, she started out in Texas, where her mother, Madeline Sullivan, ran a restaurant in Houston called Madeline's. When Kelley's parents divorced when she was 3 years old, she wound up living with her grandparents.

Kelley had two sons and two daughters.

But Kelley's life hasn't always been comical and that is where, she said in the 2006 article, her sense of humor comes from. She lost both a son, John M. Kelley, and granddaughter Nicole Papachristos. She was also a breast cancer survivor.

"When I was a baby in my cradle, I was visited by seven fairies," Kelley told the Hampton Union in 2006 on where she got her sense of humor. "Six of the fairies gave me doubt, fear, self loathing, hatred, remorsefulness and the seventh gave me humor as a survival tool. Life dishes out a lot of crap. And humor is the great survival tool and so far it has worked."

Jane Kelley & Norman Gauthier
[Courtesy NHSS, October 30, 1988]
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