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Newspaperman Kelly Dies

By Staff | Jun 30, 2010

Bob Kelly

Bob Kelly, managing editor of the Charleston Daily Mail and son of the late Adam Kelly, Tyler Star News Editor Emeritus, died Monday following a short illness. He was 60 years old.

Kelly was recuperating in a rehabilitation center following a two-week stay in a hospital in Parkersburg, when he went into cardiac arrest at around 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.

A Sistersville native, Kelly was born to be a journalist. After graduating from the West Virginia University Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism, he began his career at the Daily Mail in 1974 as a Statehouse reporter. Kelly was city editor and managing editor before he left the state to pursue an editing position with the Orlando Sentinel in Florida in 1984.

Kelly returned to West Virginia in 1988 and served as the editor of The Intelligencer in Wheeling. Ten years later, he moved to Parkersburg as editor of the Parkersburg News. He rejoined the Daily Mail in 2001, first as political editor and then as managing editor.

Said Daily Mail Editor and Publisher Nanya Friend, “I often asked him to edit my own work. I knew he would be ruthless and it might hurt my pride a little bit, but the results would be a better piece.”

Friend came to the paper as a rookie reporter in 1977 and recalls looking up to Kelly, then on the Statehouse beat.

“Much of what I know about the news business – about reporting, about writing, even about how to conduct myself as a journalist – I learned from Bob.”

“When it came to writing, he was a perfectionist. He agonized over his own stories and columns and never seemed happy with the results, which were consistently excellent.”

Journalism was in Kelly’s blood. He was the son of well-known newspaper editor and columnist Adam Kelly, the former editor and publisher of the Tyler Star News and a longtime columnist for the Ogden newspaper chain. Adam Kelly died in 1990 and the West Virginia Press Association later named an award after him.

Gov. Joe Manchin called Kelly “a beautiful person and a great friend. We had the best relationship.”

The governor called it “horrible news” to lose Kelly and Sen. Robert Byrd on the same day.

“It is really tough,” he said. As a journalist, Kelly was always respectful and could be trusted to be accurate, he said.

The governor said he and the first lady send their condolences to Kelly’s family and friends.

He said he is also sad for readers who could always depend upon Kelly to report every story with accuracy.

“We could count on Bob Kelly to do that,” Manchin said. “He will be truly missed by all.”

Ogden Nutting, publisher of The Intelligencer in Wheeling, recalled Kelly as “as special friend, a valued associate, a thoughtful editor, and a respected civic leader, but the description I am sure he would prefer is simply a newspaper man – and he certainly was a good one.”

Kelly is survived by his wife, Kathryn; his daughter, Abby, a student in the West Virginia University School of Nursing; his mother, Shannon, who resides in Sistersville; sisters, Laura Young of Scott Depot and Katie Chaplin of Charlotte, N.C., and her husband, John; nieces and nephews, Jessica Young and Adam Young of Scott Depot, Matthew Chaplin of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., and Kelly Chaplin Chan of Atlanta, Ga.; grandnieces, Zoey and Kate Chaplin of Fuquay-Varina; and uncle, Bill Kelly and his wife Gail of Frederick, Md.

Editor’s note: This story includes information from staff reports, courtesy of the Charleston Daily Mail.