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Remembering Jim Kelly '51

The following message from William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe was sent to the campus community Aug. 3, 2021 - Ed.

Dear Colleagues,

James “Jim” Kelly passed away on July 22. A William & Mary alumnus from the Class of 1951 and former Assistant to the President and Secretary to the Board of Visitors, Jim was known for his unflagging love of alma mater. His leadership at William & Mary began during his time as a student. He served as the senior class president, a president’s aide, and was a member of the track team. Upon his graduation, he was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps, joining W&M’s centuries-long tradition of service to our nation.

In 1954, Jim returned to his alma mater. He served as Executive Secretary for what was then the newly launched Society of the Alumni, cultivating among graduates a tradition of lifelong interaction with and investment in the university. He was named Assistant to the President in 1971. Seven years later, he took on the additional role of Secretary to the Board of Visitors. 

 Jim Kelly was known on this campus as a statesman. He led with grace and honor, serving as a trusted adviser to five presidents and nine rectors and as an ombudsman. After 48 years working at W&M, Jim retired in 2002 and lived the remainder of his life in Williamsburg. His kindness to all and constant smile will never be forgotten.

The full obituary for Jim Kelly may be found online. A memorial service was held on Friday, July 30, at Bruton Parish Church.


Katherine A. Rowe