From Able Newspaper September 2016
Gerard “Jerry” Kelly, United Spinal’s Executive Director from 2002 through 2005, died June 18. Kelly, who had brain cancer for three years, was 70.
Kelly was a paraplegic veteran who worked as Deputy Executive Director to James Peters from 1971-2002. In that role, Kelly managed the direct mail fundraising programs, worked closely with the United Spinal Association Board of Directors and the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s (PVA) Board of Directors.
Kelly provided advice for members and led the organization through two difficult transitions – first as Peters’ replacement when he died and second when the organization transitioned from Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA) to become United Spinal Association.
“Kelly lived the model that we hope is achievable by all of our members” said United Spinal President. and CEO. “He was well adjusted to living with a disability, integrated and active in his community, and a good boss. He was a real New Yorkers, raised in Queens and educated in Brooklyn. “He was committed to making the world a better place for people with spinal cord injury/disease and wheelchair users everywhere. Those of us who knew Jerry have suffered a great loss. He was a friend, a leader, and a role model.”
A memorial mass followed by interment with honors at a military cemetery in the Denver, CO area was held. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Porter Hospice, Denver, Colo. (www.porterhospital.org/POH/Home/), or to the charity of the donor’s choice.
He is survived by his wife Lynn, daughter Carolyn, son-in-law Mike, and granddaughters Trinity and Faith.
Editor's Note: Wheelchair Sports Federation would not exist without Jerry Kelly. His guidance, mentorship, friendship and belief that sports could help heal and provide opportunities for a more full life was unmatched. He maintained or started Adaptive Sports programs in New York like Wheelchair Basketball which started in 1946 at the Bronx VA or gave the support to start multiple programs like Wheelchair Softball which started in NYC in 1999. To this day, the annual Major League Wheelchair Softball Tournament awards were named after Mr Kelly. Wheelchair Sports Federation plans on giving out the 17th Kelly Cup in September 2017. Mr. Kelly was also a formative force behind the non-profit, Wounded Warrior Project where he helped set up the organization in it's infancy. It would be impossible to measure all the positive steps forward that Mr. Kelly has made possible for the disabled community in his career and the people he helped including both civilians and veterans with disabilities. As important was all the people he mentored and trained to get them the proper tools to keep fighting for change. We at Wheelchair Sports Federation owe a great deal to Mr. Kelly and will continue to fight and honor his life, work and his memory.