Birthplace: Buffalo, N.Y.
City of Residence: Hambden Township, OH
Memorial Date: 09/26/2012 - 11:30 a.m.
Memorial Location: Burr Funeral Home, 116 South St., Chardon. Rev. Daniel Drew, Chardon United Methodist Church, will officiate.
Willis E. Kelly, of Hambden Township, died Sept. 14, 2012, at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center in Claridon Township. He was 102.
Born Dec. 2, 1909, in Buffalo, N.Y., Willis lived in the area since 1975.
Willis was a highly talented professional musician who excelled in playing the trumpet. He began playing when he was only 12 years old.
His career was primarily in New York City, where he had the good fortune to play with such artists as Artie Shaw, The Andrews Sisters, Lester Lennon, Kate Smith and many “Big Bands” during the 1940’s.
He performed at two of President Kennedy’s inaugural balls.
Upon retirement, he moved to Geauga County, where he frequently performed in the community, sharing his gift with retirement communities, nursing homes and others. He loved to entertain.
Willis E. Kelly was a widower. His wife preceded him in death in 1980.
Willis enjoyed playing golf, bowling, snow skiing and motorcycle riding, and in his later years playing music at nursing homes.
He is survived by his nephew, John Actman of Provincetown, Mass.; niece, Jane Castle of New York; and cousin, Ruth Fern Toth of Willoughby.
He was preceded in death by his son, Dennis Kelly; wife, Marguerite Kelly; and parents, William and Emma (nee Steeb) Kelly.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 11:30 a.m. at Burr Funeral Home, 116 South St., Chardon. Rev. Daniel Drew, Chardon United Methodist Church, will officiate.
Friends may call on Wednesday from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the funeral home.
Burial will take place in Acacia Cemetery, Mayfield Heights.
Donations are suggested to the American Lung Association, 6100 Rockside Woods North, Cleveland, OH 44131, The American Heart Association, 1689 E. 115 St. Cleveland, OH 44106 or the Salvation Army.
Arrangements by The Burr Funeral Home and Cremation Service. Information and online condolences at www.burrservice.com.