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'You will forever be the man I look up to': Jim Kelly announces death of his father, Joe

Joe Kelly, the father of Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, died Monday.

Jim Kelly posted about his father's passing on Instagram, including the following caption underneath a picture.

“Words cannot possibly describe how much I loved my father and how deeply broken-hearted our entire family is right now,” he wrote. “I am the man I am today because of the man my father was everyday of his life. He was an awesome example and taught me and my five brothers how to live life and represent the Kelly Family.

“Dad, I love you and miss you so much. You will forever be the man I look up to, the man I will always be proud to call my father. Give Hunter, Mom and Uncle Ed a hug from us.”

Raised at the Holy Family Institute orphanage after both of his parents died before he was 2 years old, Joe Kelly joined the U.S. Navy at 17 and served in World War II. Upon returning home after a four-year stint, he met his future wife, Alice McGinn, and they moved to the Pittsburgh suburb of West Deer, Pa.

They later relocated to East Brady, a tiny town along the Allegheny River about an hour northeast of Pittsburgh that welcomes visitors with a sign that reads: “Welcome to East Brady: Home of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly.”

Concern for East Brady’s Jimmy

It was there that Joe and Alice raised their six boys – Pat, Ed, Ray, Jim and twins Kevin and Danny. The family settled in a yellow, two-story house on Purdum Street. Joe Kelly worked as a machinist at nearby Daman Industries, a steel fabricating plant, and also held odd jobs as a carpenter and plumber to make ends meet.

Joe Kelly, the father of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, is seen here at his son's charity golf tournament in 2014. Jim Kelly announced his father's passing Monday. (James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News)

In a 1987 feature story about Jim Kelly that appeared in the Washington Post, author Tom Friend wrote about the family’s humble beginnings.

“As a family, they didn't eat cake, and certainly not meat. Alice's nightly specialty was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which Jimmy and the rest of the boys got accustomed to,” Friend wrote. “Says Joe now: ‘I still think Jimmy likes it best. The first thing he has is peanut butter and jelly. I went to the store for him, and he made me get it. He sure eats enough of it, two or three sandwiches a day. Uh, his favorite jelly is grape.’ ”

Jim Kelly posted a week ago on Instagram that his father was in hospice care in Dunedin, Fla.

"We do not let Pops go more than a couple days without one of us being by his side," Jim Kelly wrote. "He needs his boys now more then ever."

In a 2014 feature story about Jim Kelly written by The Buffalo News' Tim Graham that focused on the concern those in his hometown of East Brady had for him while he fought cancer, there is this line about Alice Kelly:

"She had emphysema, battled cancer and died of a heart attack in 1996. She’s buried in St. Eusebius Cemetery on a hillside. Joe Kelly ... has a plot waiting beside her."

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