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Life Story / Obituary
Gregarious, loving, and kind, W. Quinn Kelly lived a life rich in faith and family. A happy husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Quinn’s innate ability to find the good in everything was a powerful gift to all who were blessed to know him. A man who knew no strangers, Quinn’s heart was a safe harbor for all. Revered by many, the gifts of Quinn’s whole-hearted, generous life will long be treasured by those who knew him best.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1931 beheld a power of hope that undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there a greater sense of hope than in Chicago, Illinois as Walter D. and Ruth Mary (Quinn) Kelly welcomed their son Quinn into their hearts and home on October 7, 1931.
Growing up in a highrise on Chicago’s north side, Quinn’s early years were spent exploring Belmont Harbor and cheering on his beloved Cubs. The oldest and only son of the Kelly's three children, Quinn enjoyed a childhood rich in Irish Catholic traditions and centered in family, faith, and hard work. While his mother cared for the home, Quinn’s father co-owned and operated Hedstrum Coal Company.
Quinn attended Mt. Carmel Elementary School. When not in school, many a day was spent building model trains, meticulously working with his HO Scale Train Set, and walking to Wrigley Field to catch the Cubs in action. As a 14-year-old, Quinn had the pleasure of attending the 1945 Cubs World Series which reinforced his lifelong commitment to the team.
Unfortunately, Quinn’s father died a year later from lung cancer. Despite the enormous loss, with typical Irish grit, the family endured. Quinn attended Loyola Academy High School from where he proudly graduated in 1950. Bright and disciplined, Quinn set his eyes on a future built upon his gifts; he pursued an economics degree at the University of Virginia. Like many young men his age, his studies were soon interrupted by a draft notice, and Quinn found himself stationed in Darmstadt, Germany with the US Army.
Upon safely returning home, Quinn completed his schooling and moved back to Chicago where he secured work as a stockbroker. One fateful day while attending a Commuter Club event, the beautiful Dorothy Bush caught Quinn’s eye. Instantly taken with the lady in red, Quinn asked her out. Despite Dorrie giving him her number, he forgot to call her. After seeing her again the next month, he made sure to follow through with a call.
It didn’t take long for Quinn and Dorrie to begin envisioning a future together. On June 2, 1962, the happy couple married at St. Joseph Church in White Pigeon, Michigan where Dorrie had grown up. For their honeymoon, they drove around Lake Michigan exploring the magic of its shores and celebrating their good fortune.
During the early years of their marriage, Quinn continued to work in Chicago. After welcoming children, they moved to Evanston, Illinois. In 1967, they settled in Kalamazoo where he began his banking career and he and his wife raised three children: Michael, Katherine, and Elizabeth. Quinn was a kind, gentle and fun loving father who struggled to say “no” but who was by no means a pushover.
For 36 years the family lived in Kalamazoo and enjoyed their grandparents home on Klinger Lake during the summer. While at the lake, Quinn enjoyed driving the boat for the kids and relaxing by the lake with a good book. His true love was the sailboat and many of Quinn’s fondest moments were sailing the Dorothy IV; the family’s Flying Scot 19’ sailboat, with his son Michael. Summers were a time for grilling a meal, enjoying a bourbon or Guinness, tending the grass, listening to the Cubs, and treasuring time together. Whether sharing the typical day, building the models of his children’s homes for his train layout, or gathering for the holidays, it was abundantly clear that Quinn’s family was his heart’s delight.
As a result of Quinn’s hard work, the family also enjoyed many wonderful trips in northern Michigan, drives to Florida and South Carolina. The highlight was an epic full family trip to Ireland. Later, Quinn and Dorrie traveled back to Ireland, as well as trips to Italy, the Mediterranean, Japan, and the Baltic States. A memory everyone will treasure is Quinn’s full-circle fortune which resulted in his attendance to a 2016 Cubs World Series game.
Quinn possessed a deep desire to learn and could often be found reading or tinkering. He loved all things related to history and was especially interested in Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, and WWI. With his Irish gift of gab, he could engage anyone in a lively conversation and quickly inspire even the most stubborn of curmudgeons to talk. His willingness to learn and experiment resulted in his growing to be quite handy around the house. He was a master of house projects, as long as plumbing wasn’t involved and the Cubs game was playing on the radio.
A man who enjoyed his work and the people he worked with, Quinn built a long, successful career. For many years, he worked for American National Bank as a trust officer staying on through many bank mergers. His final employment was at Greenleaf Trust. He provided his skills and wisdom during the company’s beginning years and helped grow the business until his retirement in 2003.
Not only did Quinn enjoy success in his career, he also relished in contributing his time and skills to various community organizations. He was a member of St. Augustine Cathedral and St. Joseph in White Pigeon. He served as a member of St. A’s School Board as well as the Constance Brown Hearing Center Board. The Rotary, Lions Clubs and Kalamazoo Symphony Board benefited greatly from his efforts. And, Quinn was also a past president of the Klinger Lake Association and Commodore of the Klinger Lake Yacht Club.
The world clearly feels less certain in the absence of Quinn’s bright spirit. While it is difficult to imagine life without his steadfast presence, may we find comfort in our many sweet memories of the lovely man we were privileged to know. May we also find comfort in the privilege of carrying Quinn’s legacy of embracing each person and each day as a gift forward. With every kindness we extend to another, Cubs game we cheer on, and change in tack we confidently make, we keep his spirit alive in our hearts and lives where it will continue to inspire others.
Walter Quinn Kelly, of Klinger Lake, formerly of Kalamazoo, died April 23, 2018, at Bronson Hospital, Kalamazoo. He was born October 7, 1931, in Evanston, IL, the son of Walter Dwyer and Ruth Mary (Quinn) Kelly. Quinn was a bank trust officer who retired from Greenleaf Trust. He was preceded in death by his son, Michael Richard Kelly in 2009 and sister, Rosemary Gibbs. Surviving are his wife of 56 years, Dorothy (Bush) Kelly; 2 daughters: Katherine (Michael) Kitchen and Elizabeth (James) Lawson; daughter-in-law, Dona Kelly; 8 grandchildren: Conor Kelly; Joseph, Nicholas, Ryan, Quinn, and Shane Kitchen; Katherine and Timothy Lawson; sister, Louise (Bernard) Martell and many nieces and nephews. Visit with family and friends on Sunday from 5-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday 10 AM at St. Augustine Cathedral. Private burial service will be held at a later date. Please visit Quinn’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com, where you can read his story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the ALS Association.