By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
As a customer service manager for the National Telephone Directory, Deacon Walter Kelly was accustomed to addressing complaints about printing mistakes.
According to those close to him, Deacon Kelly’s diplomatic demeanor at his job mirrored his gentleness in the permanent diaconate.
Deacon Walter F. Kelly Jr., a retired permanent deacon and member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Doylestown, died Wednesday, April 15, 2009, of complications from pneumonia. He was 79 years old.
“He handled everything with a great deal of poise,” said Deacon George V. Corwell, a permanent deacon stationed at Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
“He had a great sense of humor and a great ability to engage people in conversation,” Deacon Corwell added. “He never got flustered or ruffled, no matter what happened.”
Deacon Kelly was ordained a permanent deacon for the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., on Dec. 12, 1976, and incardinated into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Dec. 12, 2001. He served as a permanent deacon at Our Lady of Mount Carmel from 1986 until his retirement in 2005.
“He was a very effective deacon,” said the parish secretary, Barbara Petrone. “Whenever we needed help, he was there. He was very well-liked by the parishioners as well as the priests. People miss him.”
Petrone misses Deacon Kelly’s “jovial laughter and his smile,” she said. “He was a very gentle soul.”
Deacon Kelly was employed for 30 years with the National Telephone Directory, first in Rochelle Park, N.J., then transferring to Doylestown with the company, renamed Penn-Del, in 1986. He retired from the directory job in 1990.
Deacon Kelly was born March 9, 1930, in Nutley, N.J., the second of two children of the late Walter F. Sr. and Isabelle (Wycoff) Kelly.
He graduated from Franklin Junior High School in Nutley in 1944 and from Nutley High School in 1948. After high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served in the Korean War.
Upon his discharge from the Air Force, he attended St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, N.J., where he received a bachelor’s degree in business in 1956.
Her married Virginia Tessalone in October of 1957. She died in February 2007. They had three children.
“I can’t believe he’s not here,” said his daughter, Beth Ann Makowski, 48. “My dad always had a smile on his face,” she said. “He never judged anyone.” A humble man who never compromised his integrity, he was a mentor and a role model for all, his daughter added.
The wise advice her father imparted is among Makowski’s most cherished memories of him. “He always taught me to save my money,” she said. Among his other parental adages were, “If you want respect, you have to show respect” and “Think before you do.”
He was also a history buff. In younger years, he chauffeured his family on numerous car trips to national historic sites. He enjoyed playing golf with his sons and loved dessert – cherry pie was a favorite – but despised vegetables, according to his daughter.
“At his wake and funeral, everyone said that my dad was the gentlest person they ever met,” Makowski said.
Not only was her father a gentle man, “he was also a gentleman,” she added.
For two decades, Deacon Corwell and Deacon Kelly shared a Saturday morning diaconate routine: Mass, breakfast and hospital rounds. How to provide patients comfort and consolation and, where appropriate, light-hearted conversation, were among the many lessons Deacon Kelly taught Deacon Corwell. “He loved the Eucharist. He loved the Lord. He had a great deal of devotion and was very understanding,” Deacon Corwell said.
“He was never anxious to be in the limelight,” continued Deacon Corwell. “He always understood the diaconate as a role of service.”
In the absence of Cardinal Justin Rigali, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Cistone was the principal celebrant at Deacon Kelly’s funeral Mass Tuesday, April 21, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.
Deacon Corwell served as deacon of the Word. Deacon of the Eucharist was Deacon Joseph N. Gousie Sr., a former deacon of Our Lady of Mount Carmel now serving at Holy Cross Parish in Springfield.
In addition to his daughter Beth Ann, Deacon Kelly is survived by two sons, David M. and Robert W.; five grandchildren; a sister, Isabel Sargent; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Interment was at St. Mary Cemetery, the parish cemetery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.