Deceased August 10, 2018
Richard A. Kelly was a prince of a human being. In the words of the head of school at Colorado Academy (the Denver prep school where he taught for more than 30 years) to 200 people gathered at the memorial service celebrating “Richard’s eclectic interests and full life” shortly after his death in August, he was a “master teacher in the best of ways … , deeply intellectual, and deeply committed first and foremost to students. … Richard’s teaching will reverberate through the generations. He impacted thousands of students (teaching mathematics, economics, English and logic), and I consider myself one of them. No, not in the classroom sense, but in the way he shared his philosophies and discoveries about life.”
I am grateful to have experienced that impact first-hand when Rich and I roomed together in our first year of graduate school at Harvard (he was a transfer student, and too few of our classmates got a chance to know him well at Amherst). That year—1967–68—was a momentous one in the life of the nation, and it was marked by many long conversations and debates into the night. I have never known a fiercer, more knowledgeable, morally grounded, yet somehow gentle intellect—a reflection, perhaps, of his education at a Jesuit prep school.
Active in the Denver community, Richard served as board chair of the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities and the Denver Free University. A New Jersey native, he is survived by his daughter, Margaret, and his brother, Robert, and remembered with great affection by the thousands of students, colleagues and friends who were lucky enough to have crossed his path over the past seven decades.
H.R. Wilde ’67