Donald Joseph Kelly was born on April 8, 1938 to Ralph and Bernadyne (Cook) Kelly in Crawford County, Iowa. Don, the eldest of seven children, grew up on a farm near Wall Lake, Iowa.
The love of his life, Pearl Marie Freese, first impressed Don, while they were climbing trees together as young children. A few years after graduating high school, Don and Pearl began dating. He enlisted in the Navy and was then stationed in Hawaii. It was there, in 1962, Don and Pearl were married.
During his initial years in the Navy, Don was deployed to Japan, Midway, Guam, and the Kwajalein Islands applying his farming experience as an aviation mechanic. He was stationed in Memphis, where his first son, Donald Jr was born.
Later, while stationed in Rhode Island, Don was aboard the carrier, USS Wasp and visited Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. It was during this time that he participated in collecting the return of the astronauts from the Gemini space missions. In 1966, Don was ordered to Naples Italy, where the family grew with the arrival of his daughter, Christine and son, Brian.
New orders required that in 1969, Don move back to Memphis, where he was an aviation hydraulic instructor and a year later, son, Scott was born. The family then moved to Imperial Beach in 1974.
Don then went on a six-month cruise in the Mediterranean Sea aboard the carrier, USS John F Kennedy. In 1981, Don retired from the Navy and in 1982, his son Sean was born.
Don attended Southwestern College and then later worked as technical writer and instructor at a firm that took him to the United Arab Emirates for teaching. In 1984, Don began carrying the mail for U.S. Postal Service and became very close friends to many people along his mail route. Don continued to deliver the mail until his retirement in 2000.
Don was an avid woodworker and took great enjoyment handcrafting heirlooms and keepsakes for family and friends. He was a member of the FRA branch # 289 since 1994. For the last 30 years Don was an active member of the Lions Club, and held many leadership positions at the club, district and regional level. He was passionate in his service to help the vision impaired and spent countless hours personally collecting, sorting, repairing and ensuring the delivery of tens of thousands of eye glasses.
Don passed away on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018 at the age of 80. Those left to cherish his memory, story-telling and wonderful sense of humor include his wife of 56 years, Pearl; his children Donald (Joanna), Christine (Todd Allen); Brian (Irma), Scott (Denise), Sean (Charlet); and his grandchildren; Andrew, Brian (Wendy), Jessica, Sara, Lauren, Emily, Alexis, Scott Jr, Eric, Julia and James; and many extended family members and friends.
Don was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Bill and Dan.
During his lifetime, Don was a beloved husband, proud father, inspiring grandfather, brother and uncle. He will be dearly remembered and missed by all fortunate enough to have known him.
As a tribute to Don’s passion for helping others, in lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be made to the Lions Optometric Vision Clinic (LOVC), 1805 Upas St, San Diego, CA, 92103.
A memorial service for Don will be held on Friday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. at the Community Church located at 1727 Donax Avenue, San Diego.
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