James B. Kelley passed away on the morning of May 28th at the age of 95. He lived a long and happy life, keeping his sunny personality until the very end. Born in Barberton, Jim left home for the first time at the age of 18, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army during WWII. After serving in the Pacific, he returned to Ohio in 1946 and met Martha Barden at Muskingum College.Jim & Martha got married in 1948 at Barberton’s United Presbyterian Church, and celebrated their 71st anniversary last year. Jim & Martha raised four children in Barberton, and now have three grandchildren spread across the country. Starting as an engineer at Goodyear in 1949, Jim eventually became a Vice President & General Manager at Goodyear Aerospace.When he retired in 1987, his colleagues honored Jim as “A Gifted Leader with the Human Touch.” Everyone who knew Jim Kelley will remember him as a “people person” who lit up when a friend or relative entered the room. Jim said that one of the downsides of living to 95 is that you outlive your old friends, but he always had Martha with him, and he enjoyed being around people, even among new acquaintances.Those of us lucky enough to talk to him during his final days know that he’d always ask first how we were doing, and, when asked about himself, he’d say something like “I’ve got no reason to complain. I’m just getting a little old.” Jim was preceded in death by his father Joseph, and mother Louise, as well as by sisters Gamilla (John) Mong and Carol (Robert) Frey, and brothers-in-law Charles Ebner and Paul Freeman.He is survived by his loving wife Martha, his children David, Nancy, Tom (Yumi), and Wendy (J.R.) Swindol, and his grandchildren Maya, Sean, and Clara, as well as by sisters Gertrude Freeman and Laurel Ebner, plus many nieces and nephews. No services are planned at this time. Jim will be buried at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Barberton, 636 W. Park Ave., Barberton, Ohio 44203. With Jim’s passing, America lost another member of the Greatest Generation, and the world lost a very lovable guy. We will miss him every day.
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First Presbyterian Church of Barberton
636 W. Park Avenue, Barberton OH 44203