Robert George Kelly and Nelda Jean Kelly of Hampstead, NC, went home to the Lord on Dec. 15, 2013, as the result of injuries sustained in an automotive accident while visiting family in Phoenix, AZ. Rob and Nelda leave behind their grown (married) children, Kari Cohn and her husband, Mark Perlstein, of Phoenix, AZ and Christopher E. Kelly and his wife, Kristen, of Pound Ridge, NY. Also, beloved grandchildren, Brittany Cohn and Seven Kelly, and Rob’s brother, Harold J. Kelly, and his wife, Shannon, of Jacksonville, FL. Rob, or “Bobby,” as he was known in his youth, was preceded in death by his parents, Harold J. Kelly, Sr., and Laura R. Kelly, long-time residents of South Salem, NY. Nelda was preceded in death by her parents, Edward J. Kendrick and Letha Kendrick, of Midland, TX, as well as her brother, Leo Kendrick, also of Texas.
Nelda and Rob met while he was in the Navy and stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and were wed when they returned stateside in 1968. They recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary together this December. Born 1941 in Yonkers, NY, Rob was raised in the Bronx and in South Salem, NY, graduating John Jay High School in Cross River, NY, in 1960. After high school, Rob attended the Academy of Aeronautics in Queens, NY, where he received his degree in Aeronautical Engineering and Aircraft Design. Upon graduation in 1963, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and received his wings as a naval officer and pilot of both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. After leaving the Navy, Rob went on to receive his BA and MBA from Mercy College in NY. A Vietnam veteran, Rob served his country from 1963 to 1969, while stationed in Okinawa and at various bases in Vietnam while attached to the 7th Fleet, and on aircraft carriers assigned to the Navy’s 6th fleet in the Mediterranean. He concluded his naval service while stationed in Lakehurst, NJ. Immediately after the Navy, Rob and Nelda moved to Bedford Hills, NY, and then to Somers, NY, where they raised their children. He was employed by Verizon and held various management positions through the years, before retiring in 2005.
Nelda was born on April 24, 1943, in Oklahoma and grew up in Midland, TX, where she developed her love for cowboy boots. She worked as a personal secretary at Mavis Tire and as an office manager at Smith-Cairns, but her favorite job was being a grandparent. Once retired, Rob and Nelda made good on their plans to build a home and settle in Hampstead, NC, near where they had owned a beach home on North Topsail Island since the mid-1980s. Both were active members of the community, and took great pride in their service to the Kiwanis Club of Hampstead, NC, and particularly the Hampstead Kiwanis Park. They made the most of their relaxed lifestyle and made many new friends while taking the time to travel, be with family and just enjoy life. They were loved by all that knew them and they will be missed by family and many friends.