Nov. 12, 1928 - Sept. 26, 2016
E. Joseph Kelley of East Aurora, a “Father Baker Boy” and retired Bell Aerospace worker, died Monday at home. He was 87.
Born in Lackawanna he grew up in Father Nelson Bakers’ orphanage and remained close to many of his “brothers.”
Mr. Kelley was a graduate of Our Lady of Victory Catholic Schools and was retired from Bell Aerospace in Wheatfield, where he was a proofreader. He also worked on the South Buffalo Railroad as a fireman for several years.
In 1982 when St. Patrick Church on South Division St. was demolished, a statue of St. Patrick was left in a field. Mr. Kelley rescued and repaired the statue, then brought it to the Buffalo Irish Center, where it remains today.
In 1990, Mr. Kelley was honored to serve as Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Buffalo. He was one of the original organizers of “The Shortest Parade,” held each year in Lackawanna.
He was also a member of the Lackawanna Knights of Columbus, where he bartended part-time to keep in touch with old friends. He also tended bar at the Irish Center in his spare time.
Mr. Kelley took pride in being a “Father Baker Boy.” In 1999, he served as one of the pall bearers when Father Baker’s remains were moved to the Basilica.
For several years, he participated in the anniversary mass for Father Baker, carrying the wreath to the altar along with his “brothers.” In 2009, the documentary “Legacy of Victory” was filmed at his home in Elma.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Alice Sawchuk; two daughters, Elaine Sondel and Maureen; and three grandsons.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Our Lady of Victory Basilica, 767 Ridge Road, Lackawanna.