John G. Kelly was born on March 12, 1919 to James and Elizabeth (Hebert) Kelly and spent his entire life in Saint John. On September 17, 1955 he married Mary M. (Campbell) Kelly and together they raised their daughter, Margot Kelly and son, J. Peter Kelly.
John’s service to the community began early on when he served in World War II - Carleton and York Regiment and was attached to the North Novas. Wounded in action in Ortona, Italy, he was discharged with the rank of Captain. He continued his involvement as President of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #14 and was honoured with the Legion Merit Service Medal.
John was a charter member of the United Commercial Travelers of America. United Commercial Travelers is a fraternal benefit organization, founded in Ohio in 1888, by a group of traveling salesmen. The goal was to provide protection for the families and widows of the salesmen, as they had no other form of insurance. Today their main function is to raise money and to use that money to help the intellectually disabled, youth, cancer victims and others in society in need of assistance.
John was the proud owner and operator of Kelly Tire in Saint John and was president of Kelly Tire in Fredericton. He was also the first President of the Tire Dealers Association of Canada.
John Kelly was a great believer in the benefit of sports and recreation for the youth of Saint John. His name is synonymous with the introduction of Little League Baseball to Saint John in 1953 by organizing the Saint John County Little League and then organized the North End Little League. Although baseball was his passion his interest in sports permeated to other areas. He owned the Kelly’s Shamrocks, a junior hockey team that competed in the first New Brunswick Junior Hockey League. He also served as president of the Saint Old Timers Hockey Association, Saint John, Minor Football Association and Coached Minor League hockey. In 1977 he was named Saint John Sportsman of the Year for all of his exceptional contributions.
The Fund was administered through the UCT Chapel Grove Youth Centre Inc. The decision to entrust the funds to the Greater Saint John Community Foundation was made to ensure that the bursaries would remain in place to distribute for years to come.
The John Kelly Recreation Bursary Fund provides financial assistance to students from the Greater Saint John area enrolled at the University of New Brunswick in any year of a post secondary program studying kinesiology, physical education, recreation or sports.