Elizabeth (Betty Jane) Kelly was well known for her pithy advice, broad sense of humor, and love of the beach and books. Her deadpan delivery of her one-liners, up until her last days, was done with an exceptional sense of timing. She passed after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.
She grew up in Morristown, by Washington’s Headquarters, in a home her family shared with her grandmother and cousins. Betty always enjoyed pointing out where her home was whenever she and her family were in the area.
She met the love of her life, Robert Kelly, in the summer of 1958 at a boardwalk bar in Point Pleasant Beach. They married the following October and were together for more than 58 years until Bob passed in 2018. Together they started married life in an apartment in Belleville with lots of steps and a foul-mouthed parrot in the apartment below. Eventually, they moved to Sunset Drive in Nutley, where they raised their four children, one very smart dog and one not so smart, but still well-loved dog.
Elizabeth dispensed invaluable advice to her children, with one of her favorites being “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” along with the reply of “Get a drink of water” to any middle of the night claim of illness by her children or grandchildren.
She was a daily Communicant at St Thomas the Apostle in Bloomfield after she retired from the Montclair Board of Education. She had previously worked in Catholic schools in Bloomfield and Caldwell.
She encouraged her children to stretch for their athletic or academic dreams. She was the first parent in Nutley to insist her daughter play Little League with the then all-boys teams. She organized vacations in the family camper twice a year – south in the spring, north in the summer, one box of clothes each. Betty made sure summers were full of camps, rec, classes, academic programs, sports, and on one memorable occasion, Bible School.
Elizabeth was happiest at the beach, reading a book or walking the shoreline looking for shells and sea glass. She and Bob were snowbirds, spending time in their later years in Florida over the winters. She enjoyed her annual visits to Branch Brook Park to see the cherry blossoms in bloom and the trips to the Presby Memorial Gardens in Montclair to see the irises. She was happy when the town of Nutley chose the evergreen in her backyard to be the town Christmas tree.
Betty’s grandchildren brought her special joy, and Nan and Pop were go-to babysitters and regulars at games, school events, and the marathon dance extravaganzas. Her grandchildren always knew that going to Nan and Pop’s house meant a very good chance of Nan’s chicken, Pop’s spaghetti or Ralph's Pizza.
Elizabeth was predeceased by her husband, Robert and her brother, Bill (Bucky). She is survived by her daughter, Lyn and her husband, Bill Corrigan, her son, Robert Jr and his wife, Lisa Kelly, her daughter, Kathleen and her husband, Fred Hoffman and her daughter, Noreen and her husband, Frank Fitzsimons, her grandchildren, Mallory and Devin Corrigan and Jack, Meagan and Katie Hoffman. Betty’s family wishes to thank Theresa Smith, Anne Marie Elliott, Kathleen Robinson, and Masao Sheriff for their love, care, and companionship for Betty, especially during the pandemic.
Betty was never a fan of goodbyes, so please join us in wishing her well on her next journey. Visitation will be held on Monday, June 7th from 5pm to 8pm at Higgins and Bonner Echo Lake Funeral Home (higginsandbonner.com), 582 Springfield Ave, Westfield, NJ. A Funeral Mass will be offered on Tuesday, June 8th at 9:30am at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Bloomfield, NJ with internment following at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington, NJ. The family would appreciate your honoring her with donations in her name to Center for Hope Hospice (CFHH.org).
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