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Herbert V. Kelly: 'Favorite son' passes away

Herb Kelly. Courtesy of Jones, Blechman, Woltz and Kelly.

Herb Kelly. Courtesy of Jones, Blechman, Woltz and Kelly.


Herbert V. Kelly, Sr., a former William and Mary rector and member of the Board of Visitors, died at home Feb. 19 at the age of 87.

“The Peninsula, our Commonwealth, but most powerfully the College of William and Mary is today immeasurably better for Herb’s leadership during the last 60 years,” said William and Mary President Gene R. Nichol. “Few approached the breadth of his commitment to the College  felt by our law, business, and athletics programs, and fewer have matched his leadership, both as rector of the College and, at least as meaningfully, since, as an esteemed and trusted counselor and friend.”

Kelly was born in Brunswick County, Va., on Feb. 14, 1920. He received his undergraduate degree from William and Mary in 1941 and his law degree in 1943. He served on the Board of Visitors from 1976 to 1985 and was rector from 1982 to 1984.

In a 1979 interview with The Flat Hat, Kelly said he was appointed to the Board as the result of a “long-time fond affection for William and Mary.”

In 1987, he received the Alumni Medallion, and he was presented an honorary degree in 1993. In 2005, he served as the William and Mary homecoming marshal.

Kelly, a lawyer with Jones, Blechman, Woltz and Kelly, had more than 60 years of experience practicing law. Since 1992, he served as co-chairman of “People to People,” a community organization that aims to establish positive dialogue on race issues. He also served as president of the local United Way, Boy Scout Council, sports club and Newport News Rotary Club. He received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce in 1984.

“Herb Kelly was everything a College favorite son should be,” said Jim Kelly (no relation), who served as secretary to the board and assistant to the president when Herb Kelly was rector of the College. “In numerous positions of leadership he provided inspirational support for our academic community—its law school, its athletic programs and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. What William and Mary is today and can become is due in no small part to the love and loyalty this remarkable individual had for his alma mater. William and Mary joins with his community, his church and his family in celebrating his life and recognizing how much he will be missed.”

See also:
 Luck of the Irish


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