Charles M. Kelly
January 22, 1935 – January 27, 2020
Our dad, Charles Martin “Bud” Kelly, was born on January 22nd, 1935 and died on January 27th, 2020, and lived a whole lot of life in between those two dates. He grew up in Gibbon, Nebraska, with his parents Bill and Gertrude, sisters Lu and Barb, and his brother Bob. After graduating from Gibbon High School, he attended Kearney State College where he graduated after 6 years. One of those years was spent in the Army and the other extra year was never fully explained to us. He met our mom, Marion Polski, (she’s Polish) at college and they eventually married in Omaha on December 27th, 1960 in front of about 25 family members and friends, as well as 6 or 7 of Bud’s 9th grade students from his teaching job at Horace Mann Jr High, who were hoping to earn some extra credit by attending. They had cake and punch in the basement of Our Lady of Lourdes, kissed their parents goodbye and started their life together.
From 1962 to 1969 Marion gave birth to six kids, Eva, Katie, Kristi, Theresa, Peggy and Sean. And for five decades these six individuals were both the greatest source of joy in his life and on many, many occasions, the bane of his existence. Hard work was ingrained in Bud as a youngster working at his dad’s service station, so it was natural for him to dive headfirst into his career while Marion cared for their 6 kids. Bud first worked as a teacher for OPS, then for Southwestern Bell and finally settled into a career in public finance for Chiles, Heider Inc. and later Kirkpatrick Pettis. He worked long hours and traveled to virtually every county in the state, usually to put together bond issues used to build new schools. He took great pride in his work because he loved small towns, he felt comfortable in small towns, and he believed schools were the heartbeat of those small towns.
He had many hobbies and was not a man that could sit still for very long. For most of our childhood, he was in the garage working on an antique car, in his shop working on furniture, or in his yard, bemoaning the return of crab grass or sod webworm. He loved to fish and ride the pontoon out at the cabin in South Bend, which he and Mom purchased in 1983. He was a darn good pool player and loved playing cards, be it blackjack at a casino, pitch with mom and Don & Eileen, or snatch at Thanksgiving with his many grandkids. Our dad had two institutions that he demanded his children follow, with love and devotion: The Catholic Church and Nebraska football. His faith in God and the Church never wavered. The same can’t be said for the Cornhuskers.
His life was abundant and overflowing with the people he loved. He had a loving and devoted wife, who could feed a family of 8 for $4.82 a day. He had fantastic, loyal friends at every stage of his life. They worked hard together, and they played hard together. They closed down many a cocktail bar and were not unfamiliar with the concept or practice of the three-martini lunch. His kids married up, as he always instructed us to do, resulting in 11 smart, humble, funny, kind and beautiful grandkids, and one incredible great-granddaughter. He was immensely proud of them all. For the vast majority of his time here, he lived his life exactly how he wanted to. He had no use for status and no patience for shortcuts.
As a father he taught us to be ethical in every aspect of our lives. To be a loyal and steadfast friend. He showed us how to laugh and have fun whenever and wherever we had the chance, even if it was inappropriate. He was not a saint, by any stretch, as a husband, a father, or a friend. He would readily agree with that, undoubtedly. He was stubborn, opinionated, moody, indelicate with handling of parental issues and any other synonyms for stubborn you can think of. But we know he did the very best he could. At many points, in all our lives, he showed us patience, generosity and kindness when we needed it the most. Those instances shaped the people we are today. We never doubted for a second that he loved us. We didn’t doubt it, because he told us he loved us and he showed us he loved us. He gave us a great life, a home we could always return to, and a family that will always stick together.
Survivors include wife, Marion; daughters: Eva Van Lent (James), Katie Kelly (Steve Sylvester), Kristi Kelly, Theresa Lower (Robert) and Margaret “Peg” Simon (Mark); son, Sean Kelly (Jamie); sister, Barbara Lambrecht; brother, Robert Kelly; eleven grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter. Bud was preceded in death by parents, William and Gertrude Kelly; sister, Lucille Rabe; and grandson, Bud Lower.
Family will receive friends Friday, January 31st from 6pm to 7pm, at the West Center Chapel (7805 West Center Road) followed by a VIGIL SERVICE at 7pm. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Saturday, February 1st, 10am, St. Gerald Catholic Church (9602 Q St.). Memorials may be directed to the Wounded Warrior Project at woundedwarriorproject.org.