Funeral services are planned for Friday for Rhawnhurst’s Ed Kelly, founder of the wildly popular Pennypack Park Music Festival and former executive director of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Kelly, who had suffered from various ailments over the last several years, died Monday morning at Holy Redeemer Hospice. He was 86.
The Kellys had two-plus quality weeks with the family patriarch after he received last rites. In that time, he was able to get in a few horse bets and meet with music festival organizers Norm Jadczak and Donny Smith.
The family was hoping he would live at least until Oct. 21, when he was to be inducted into the Northeast Philadelphia Hall of Fame.
“He’ll be there in spirit,” said his daughter, Nancy.
On Sunday, the Kelly family held an unofficial Hall of Fame ceremony, reading him the tribute prepared for the upcoming ceremony. It brightened his day.
“Looking over all the candidates, he really did stand out. He spent his life making the community a better place. He has a pretty remarkable legacy of contributions to Northeast Philly,” said Jack McCarthy, the Hall of Fame’s project director.
Kelly served in World War II and owned a successful auto repair and towing business in Burholme. He served as executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce from 1971-82.
Al Taubenberger, current president of the Chamber, recalls working with Kelly while serving as an aide to former congressman Charlie Dougherty.
Taubenberger credited Kelly with spurring local job creation and economic development. It was Kelly who secured the Chamber’s current office, a former park guard station at 8601 Roosevelt Blvd. The office was dedicated on Dec. 11, 1974, and then-Mayor Frank L. Rizzo attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Kelly received a number of honors this past year.
In July 2011, to mark his 85th birthday, the music festival bandshell stage was named the “Ed Kelly Stage.”
Last November, Kelly was grand marshal of the Mayfair-Holmesburg Thanksgiving Parade. Last December, he turned on the lights on the Christmas tree sponsored by the Mayfair Business Association and Mayfair Civic Association. In March, McCarthy called to tell him he had been selected for the Hall of Fame.
Kelly is survived by his wife of 61 years, Jane; children, in addition to Nancy, are Kathleen, Marita, Patti, Michael, Julie and Ted; 13 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
A viewing will be held on Friday from 8 to 10:45 a.m. at Resurrection of Our Lord Church, Castor and Shelmire avenues. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Fox Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Pennypack Park Music Festival via pennypack.org ••