Gerard “Jerry” Kelly, United Spinal’s executive director from 2002-2005, passed away June 18. Kelly was 70. He waged a brave fight against brain cancer for the past three years. He is survived by his wife Lynn, his daughter Carolyn, son-in-law Mike, and granddaughters Trinity and Faith.
Kelly was a paraplegic veteran who worked as deputy executive director to James J. Peters from 1971-2002. In that role, Kelly managed direct mail fundraising programs, worked closely with our board of directors and with PVA’s board of directors, and lent his mature, thoughtful and gentlemanly nature to all EPVA/United Spinal endeavors. Kelly was a go-to-guy for staff members with problems, and for members with problems, and led the organization through two very difficult transitions: first as Peters’ replacement when he died, and second when the organization transitioned to become United Spinal.
Kelly lived the model that we hope is achievable by all of our members. He was well adjusted to living with a disability, integrated and active in his community, and a good boss. He was a real New Yorker, raised in Queens and educated in Brooklyn. He was committed to making the world a better place for people with spinal cord injury/disease and wheelchair users everywhere.
Those of us who knew Jerry have suffered a great loss. He was a friend, a leader, and a role model.
A memorial mass followed by interment with honors at a military cemetery in the Denver, Colorado, area was held. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Porter Hospice, Denver, Colorado (www.porterhospital.org/POH/Home/), or to the charity of your choice.