MADISON - Ronald S. Kelly, age 88, passed away on July 13, 2020 at UW Hospital in the arms of his family. Ron was born on July 29, 1931, in Madison, WI. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and brother. Ron and his brother, Jack, who were inseparable growing up, were raised by their dedicated mother Esther who worked full-time at the Madison Parks Department. Ron attended Madison West High school. He met the love of his life, Mary Kay Cafferty from Edgewood High, in 1949 at the Ice Cream Shop on Regent Street, a popular social gathering spot of their era. They were married for 61 years and were loving parents to five children.
Ron attended UW-Madison where he studied economics. He was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He was accepted into the ROTC and rose to first lieutenant in the US Army. He was subsequently stationed in Fukuoka, Japan with the Army Corps of Engineers where their first son, Dan, was born. After returning from Japan, Ron’s first job was at Oscar Mayer where he worked on the production line. He rose up the ranks, assuming managerial positions including Plant Manager for the Oscar Mayer plant in Chicago and, ultimately, served as a Senior Vice President in Madison until his retirement. Known for his tireless work effort, he started his own small business after retirement. Most recently, he was a part-time operations consultant for Teel Plastics.
Ron was very proud of his role as a Western Golf Association Director and eventually Trustee. He worked tirelessly to train caddies and raise funds for the Evans Scholar Foundation. Mary Kay and Ron hosted the local Evans Scholar tournament for multiple years. Ron was a regular announcer on the first tee of the Western Open Golf Tournament in Chicago where he introduced the professional players, including his own nephew Jerry, for years. Ron was a dedicated member of Maple Bluff CC, where he served as president for 2 years.
Ron and Mary Kay loved wintering in Palm Springs. Ron had a keen eye for art and decorating and cherished his art collection. Some would also say he was a bit of a fashion hound. He was voted best dressed man by Madison Magazine in 1985. I think some would rival he had a chance by 2020 as well. Most of all, Ron was a true “people-person”. He was perceptive, witty and charming. Ron advised his children and grandchildren that public speaking was a valuable skill. Ron loved hosting parties where he would entertain an incredible circle of friends. Ron could really work a room! His signature sarcastic sense of humor was widely known by each of his friends and relatives, all of whom he cherished.
Ron was preceded in death by his Mother Esther, Father Sylvester, brother Jack Kelly and wonderful wife Mary Kathryn Kelly.
He is survived by his children, Daniel Kelly of Philadelphia, PA, Megan (Bill) Tyner of Buffalo Grove, IL, Tim (Connie) Kelly of Simi Valley, CA, Patrick (Tiffany) Kelly of Ladera Ranch, CA, Peggy (Roger) Gierhart of Madison, WI; 16 grandchildren, Sean (Becky) Kelly, Maureen (Tim) Rogers, Kevin (Jamie) Tyner, Kelly Tyner; Brendan Kelly, Mickinsey Kelly, Reilly Gierhart, Cassidy Kelly, Madison Kelly, Kara Tyner, Rory Gierhart, Ryan Gierhart, Mia Kelly, Megan Kelly, Callahan Kelly, Fletcher Kelly; 3 great-grandchildren, Teagan Rogers, Clayton Tyner, Abigail Kelly; Sisters in law, Lee Kelly and Peggy Dean; many nieces and nephews and several beloved, cousins.
A special thank you to Meadowmere Assisted Living (especially Jan) for their incredible care and for making him part of the family. Thank you to the nurses at UW hospital who cared for Ron with such compassion.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Ron’s passion, The Evans Scholar Foundation, 2501 Patriot Blvd, Glenview, IL, 60026, wgaesf.org or to the UW Foundation, the Excellence in Palliative Care Fund, US Bank Lockbox 78807 Milwaukee, WI 53278, supportuw.org/giveto/palliativecare.
A Private Service will be held at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Madison, with a celebration of Ron’s life to be considered for a later date. To view and sign this guestbook, please visit: www.ryanfuneralservice.com.
Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services
2418 N. Sherman Avenue
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