April 27, 2019
Great Falls, MT
Surrounded by family, our loving patriarch, John R. Kelly, passed away after an extended health battle. Six days shy of his and his devoted wife, Audrey's 70th wedding anniversary, John left us to take his place in heaven. Born and raised in Great Falls, John always worked hard from an early age. Along with his parents, Ruth and Raymond Kelly, John helped run the Rolland and Sparling apartments downtown and care for his mother and sister throughout their lives. The two hotels had their moments of fame as they were one of the first facilities in town with indoor hot and cold running water and making Ripley's Believe it or Not due to the 'Spite Wall'. After graduating from GFHS at 17, John quickly enrolled in both the Air Guard and the Navy to do his patriotic part during WWII. Following the war John received his degrees in Engineering and Liberal Arts from Gonzaga and The College of Great Falls, respectively. He then ventured into a career in engineering for Boeing in Seattle and Spokane until finally resettling in Great Falls in 1957. John worked for a variety of Great Falls engineering firms as well as a stint as City Engineer. After retirement, John was instrumental in the opening of Kelly's Signs with wife Audrey and son Ray. John went to work at the sign shop every day to either work, play solitaire or have fun with his family until a month prior to his passing. John married his life-long love, Audrey June Nelson in April of 1949 and together had six children: Karen Leeper (John Murphy) of Great Falls, Jim Kelly (Gerda) of Aurora, CO, Dave Kelly (Debby) of Great Falls, Paddy Bray (Stuart) of Louisville, CO, Ray Kelly (Shelly) of Great Falls and Chris Kelly also of Great Falls. John also has 12 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. You don't have to look far to know John's greatest joy- his family. The times together were always full of games, laughter and jokes. Any event was an excuse to get everyone together, drink beer and tell stories. John also loved anything and everything to do with sports, staying competitive in softball and basketball well into his 60's. But also great joy of John's was watching all his kids and grandkids play. After retirement, John also was involved in numerous boards, charity work and his time with the Hibernians. Services for John will take place at Hillcrest Lawn Chapel 10:00 a.m. on Monday April 29, 2019 at 1410 13th Street. Always a strong proponent of education, charitable donations may be dedicated to any educational organization, but also the Great Falls Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary or Great Falls Food Bank. To plant a tree in memory of John R. Kelly, please visit our .