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James F. Kelly

March 25, 1933 ~ November 17, 2020 (age 87)


James F. Kelly “Jim” passed away peacefully surrounded by family and loved ones in the early hours of Tuesday morning, November 17, 2020 in Paoli, PA.

It is nearly impossible to summarize the extraordinary life of James F. Kelly in just a few paragraphs as he lived his full 87 years by squeezing every last drop out of every day. Jim was wise, indomitable, altruistic, gregarious and always quick to tell a good, long tale in the Irish tradition. 

He was born and raised in Philadelphia by his parents, James F. Kelly and Loretta (McGovern) Kelly. Jimmy, as his family called him, attended St. Callistus grade school and West Catholic High School. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Villanova University in 1955, putting himself through college by selling encyclopedias door to door. While he attended college, Jim was a member of the ROTC and upon graduation, joined the Marines as a lieutenant.

He married Sarah Ann (Kearney) Kelly in 1955 and they had two boys, David Kelly in 1956 and Christopher Kelly in 1958. Stationed at Camp Lejeune, the family created lovely memories during their time in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. After completing his service, he was honorably discharged and decided to return to Pennsylvania, settling in King of Prussia.

Jim was the consummate entrepreneur and the greatest salesman you have ever seen. After returning to Pennsylvania, Jim started his first business selling china, crystal and cookware at home parties. He married Fern (Margolin) Kelly in November of 1971 and had their son, Matthew J. Kelly in 1972. Jim was also fortunate enough to gain a step-daughter, Sheri Dever, when he married Fern. Then, in 1985, he founded an industrial cleaning and services company that led to great success. The company survives today and is thriving under the management of his son, Matt Kelly, and nephew, Gerry Kelly.

Jim loved summers at the Jersey Shore, winters in Vero Beach, Florida, classic cars, boats, gardening, golf, golf and more golf, tennis, tennis and more tennis. His sweet tooth could never be quenched and his love for family, friends and God ran the deepest.

Jim shared the latter part of his life with his wife, Susan (Statts) Kelly. They shared a beautiful Christmas ceremony in 1998 and split their time between houses on the Main Line and Florida.  

Jim taught himself how to play tennis, golf, drive boats, and build businesses. He was a tremendous chess player and had a short game that rivaled many professional players.

Most of all, he helped anyone who asked, family or friend. He would give you money, a job, an ear to bend or advice. He did his best to create a life filled with love and compassion.

Jim was preceded in death by his sister Florence (Kelly) Bruce, wife Sarah Ann Kelly, wife Susan Kelly, his son David Kelly and his grandson, Ryan David Kelly. He is survived by his sister Dorothy (Kelly) Morio, brother Gerald Kelly, sons Matthew J. Kelly, Christopher Kelly, grandchildren, Jessica Kelly, Indiana Kelly and Quinn Kelly.

His Viewing will be held 10:00-11:00 AM Friday, November 20, 2020 at St. Patrick’s Church in Malvern, PA, followed by his Funeral Mass 11:00 AM. Interment at Valley Forge Memorial Gardens. The Funeral Mass will be livestreamed here:

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital,

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James F. Kelly, please visit our floral store.


November 20, 2020

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
St. Patrick Catholic Church
104 Channing Avenue
Malvern, PA 19335

Funeral Mass
November 20, 2020

11:00 AM
St. Patrick Catholic Church
104 Channing Avenue
Malvern, PA 19335


Valley Forge Memorial Gardens


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105-2151
Tel: 1-800-655-1900

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