Cover photo for Martin J. Kelly's Obituary
Martin J. Kelly Profile Photo

Martin J. Kelly

July 19, 1931 — April 18, 2021

Martin J. Kelly

Martin Joseph Kelly
Martin, 89, passed away the morning of April 18, 2021 in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio. He is survived by his children, Mary and her two sons, Charles and Carmichael, Timothy and wife Denise and their children Alyssa and Alexandria, Andrew and his wife Honey and their children Kacey and Kara, John and his children Greta and Heidi and, Stephanie, the youngest of his five children.

Martin graduated from Chaminade High School in 1950, then worked for Price Brothers Clothing Store in downtown Dayton. Later he worked for the City of Dayton, Water Department, and was employed there for 33 years until his retirement in 1989.

Being a devout Catholic, Martin attended church at his lifetime parish, Emmanuel Catholic Church on Franklin St. in Dayton. His personal life was filled not only with prayer, but with love for his wife Helen Elaine Kelly (deceased 2016), and his children.

Being a lifelong resident of Dayton, Martin loved the city in which he lived. He was active in the South Park Historical Society and a founding member of the Oregon District Historic Preservation Society. In 2013, he was honored as an Oregon Historical District Emeritus Trustee. During the 1970’s and 1980’s he was instrumental in the preservation movement in Dayton which strove to preserve Dayton’s architectural history. He wrote numerous articles for the Journal Herald and Dayton Daily News newspapers about Dayton history and its historical buildings. He was part of the organization that saved the Old Dayton Courthouse from destruction and many other historically significant buildings. Additionally, he was often sought by historians and journalists to aid in their research on Dayton history because of his in- depth knowledge on the subject. In 1976, Martin and Donald White co-authored an addendum to John F. Edgar’s 1896 book titled “Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 1776-1840”. In that addendum, he and Mr. White provided clarification and updates to the sites and individuals mentioned in Edgar’s original work.

The home in which he lived in also reflected his love of Dayton history. The Kelly Family homestead (registered on the National Register of Historic Places) on South Main St. was carefully restored to is 1876 grandeur by Martin during the 1970’s and 1980’s. His motivation for this restoration was not only as an act of historic preservation, but also to teach his children about the importance of family and family history. The home today continues to remain in the Kelly family since its construction in 1876.

Martin was instrumental in the formation of the first Irish step dancing competition and festival held in Dayton. He was the Charter Chairman for this event that has been held every year since its inception in 1974.

In 19[MK1] 52, Martin was drafted into the United States Army and rose to the rank of Master Sargent during the Korean War. Immediately following his honorable discharge from the army, Martin hitchhiked from Forth Worth Texas to Dayton Ohio. This trip was to pursue his hobby of filming and photographing trollies and streetcars in the cities he traveled. During his trips he encountered others who shared the same hobby and became lifelong friends. Many of the family vacations were centered around visits to railway museums. On one such trip to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington Co. Pennsylvania, Martin was pleased to see Trolley car number 2227, a Cincinnati streetcar that he and his railfan friends saved from being scraped. He and his railfan friends from Dayton obtained the car and used it as a meeting house, then later donated the car to the Pennsylvania museum where it has since been restored. Martin was dedicated to all things relate to rail history as much as Dayton history.

The family will greet friends for visitation services between 6:00pm to 8:00pm on Thursday April 22nd at Westbrock Funeral Home located at 1712 Wayne Ave., Dayton Ohio.

Catholic Mass will be held at Emmanuel Catholic Church, 149 Franklin St., Dayton, Ohio at 10:00am on Friday, April 23rd followed by final resting at Calvary Cemetery.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Martin J. Kelly, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Walk through socially distanced visitation

Thursday, April 22, 2021

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Mass of Christian Burial

Friday, April 23, 2021

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

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