William H. Kelley ’59

Captain William H. Kelley, 79, of Marblehead, MA and Palm Beach, FL, passed away at Salem Hospital on October 27, 2014. He was the beloved husband of the late Marie “Mayo” (Audet) Kelley. Born in Marblehead, he was the son of the late Morris and Harriet (Snow) Kelley.

Captain Kelley has this title due to the fact that he is licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a Master Mariner, Steam and Motor Vessels, any Tonnage, and any Oceans. He attended Middlebury College where he earned an Associate Degree. He then transferred to Maine Maritime Academy to pursue a life at sea. He graduated with a Bachelor of Marine Science Degree and as a U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Third Officer. His first assignment was a Third Officer aboard an Isbrandtsen Line freighter circumnavigating the World. These voyages took four months and usually consisted of 23 to 26 ports of call. Captain Kelley did this for two years and then voyaged on several different routes including Tramp Steamers and Passenger Freighters. He also served as navigator on the Nuclear Ship “SAVANNAH” which carried passengers and freight to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean peaceful uses for Nuclear Power.

Captain Kelley was employed by the Navy Department to test new vessels at sea. On this assignment he commanded six war ships as Trials Master. His duty was to test all systems at sea including weaponry. He then instructed and trained the Prospective Commanding Officers in maneuvering and operating their ships. These trials were conducted out of Savannah, Georgia. He provided another service for the Navy – Piloting. Captain Kelley was selected to pilot the U.S.S. “CONSTITUTION” on its first sail in 137 years. Old Ironsides sailed from Boston, MA to Marblehead, MA under its own power (Sail).

He has sailed in many major ocean races over the years including Newport, RI to Bermuda and Marblehead, MA to Halifax, NS. Many other professions and adventures are too numerable to relate.

He was a Past Commodore of the Boston Yacht Club in Marblehead, MA; Past President of the Marblehead Harbor Rotary Club; and Past Master of Wayfarers and Philanthropic Lodges in Massachusetts where he received the Joseph Warren Distinguished Service Medal.

He is survived by his sister-in-laws, Eileen McCarthy of Danvers, and Anne Lyons and her husband Skip of Marblehead; and his grandchildren, Lillien and Nolen Kelley. He was pre-deceased by his son Bradford Kelley.

A Memorial Service will be held at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 26 Pleasant Street, Marblehead, MA on Tuesday, November 4 at 11AM. Burial and Masonic Service to follow in Waterside Cemetery, Marblehead. Relatives and friends respectfully invited. Visiting hours will be held at the Eustis and Cornell Funeral Home, 142 Elm Street, Marblehead on Sunday, November 2 from 2-6PM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of your choice.