John Joseph Kelley

November 3, 1930 ~ September 3, 2020 (age 89)


John “Joe” Kelley died peacefully on September 3, 2020, two months shy of his 90th birthday. 

Joe was born in Lawrence, MA, the only child of John J. and Angelina (Boulanger) Kelley. He graduated from Merrimack College (Andover, MA) in 1954 with a B.S. in chemistry, with a two-year hiatus serving in the U.S. Air Force.

He received his M.S. (1956) and PhD (1959) in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin. While attending classes he met his future wife and life-long partner, Jacqueline (“Jacky”) St. Clair. They were married on Jan. 3, 1959, and went on to have five daughters (Catherine, Amy, Denise, Sharon, and Shawn) and six grandchildren (Joshua, Vincent, Emile, Henry, Alexandra and Eamon).

Joe’s science career began as a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Paul Kaesberg studying plant viruses. Subsequent positions included Research Biochemist for General Mills in MN, and Head of the Biochemistry Section of Collaborative Research (Waltham, MA).

In 1967 Joe and Jacky returned to Madison, where Joe worked in the Biophysics lab for many years. After a brief stint as Administrator of the Madison Agrigenetics Research Laboratory, he returned to the U.W. to administer the newly formed Biotechnology Center and then the Institute for Enzyme Research until his retirement in June 1992.

Joe’s primary love was his wife, Jacky. The two of them were known and admired for their unconventional style: from their steadfast pursuit of peace and justice to their nearly grass-free front yard full of wildflowers and birds.

At various points in his life Joe also enjoyed woodcarving, playing squash, hiking, volunteering at the U.W. Arboretum, and tending his amazing gardens. 

Joe expressed much gratitude to his many AA colleagues who helped make the last 35 years of his life more fruitful.

At his request, there will be no service, but the daughters will rejoin his ashes with Jacky’s in a lovely corner of the Arboretum.

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