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“There Was Singing In The Streets” – The Life and Legacy of Nancy A. Kelly

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When we think of Nancy Kelly, we think of an exquisitely warm, loving, and generous woman with a heart and soul of unending kindness. She possessed a radiant beauty; a peaceful, quiet beauty and a serene dignity. Our mother was filled with a gentle compassion that inspired us to always be our best selves under any circumstances. In her unique way, she instilled in us the best of what made her so unique, filling our hearts with love, strength, compassion and inspiration.

In addition to all of this, Nancy also had a magical effect on everyone she met. She made friends easily and her charming personality possessed an easy laugh, a soft voice, and a sincere interest in the circumstances of other’s lives. There are not many like Nancy Kelly to be found anymore. And it’s important to note that her remarkable spirit was spread over 87 years.

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Nancy was born on April the 8th, 1928. According to Nancy’s brother John Munnis, our grandmother said “there was singing in the streets when you were born and there’s been singing ever since.” John says Nancy was a, “charming little girl” growing up on Athelwold Street in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

She spent her summers as a youngster on the sandy streets of Ellsworth, Maine, with her grandmother, Nana Willett and all of her extended family. “She was a pleaser,” says her brother John. “She would avoid any and all confrontation, even as a young woman.”

Kelly Family

Nancy was a devoted wife, of John J. Kelly, Sr.,  and mother of five children, Maureen, Patricia, the late Elizabeth , John Jr., and the recently deceased Richard . She taught her children the value of hard work and had an extremely strong work ethic herself, including a career that spanned several decades.

She taught her children to study hard in school and always strive for high achievement. Nancy had a strong artistic streak, which she inherited from her mother and grandmother, who were great artists themselves. She loved knitting and sewing and many other artistic endeavors. She taught her children the joy of reading and love of language, and always insisted that proper grammar be spoken in the house.

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No remembrance of Nancy’s life would be complete without mention of the 20-year romance and partnership she had with the late and sorely missed Alfred Lotero. Al was my mother’s great love and soul mate for 18 years and they complimented each other wonderfully. We have so many vivid memories of Mom during her retirement years together with Al at his home in Mattapoisett on Cape Cod or even further south in Florida’s Marco Island during the icy cold Boston winters. They golfed together and found the quiet peace they loved. Nancy even found a hobby after she retired, reading to the blind at radio station WATD.

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In July, Nancy’s son John and his fiancée Janet visited her in Dedham, Massachusetts, for what would be one final time. They enjoyed a truly lovely week filled with conversation and laughter and ice cream cones. The cherry on top of this visit came with the arrival of Nancy’s younger brother John Munnis from Ohio. Through the magic of technology, we were able to connect with my mother’s older brother Joseph Munnis on FaceTime and the three siblings from Dorchester, MA were united again. It was a special day for three very close siblings.

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Our mother always had a love of people, especially young people, like her granddaughters Ashley and Jillian Harris. She was interested in their stories and their lives. She would always advise everyone she met of the importance of “keeping a happy heart” and she also liked to remind people “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” But no matter how difficult things would get, Nancy was always kind and she looked for the best in people. And if you look for this, you usually find it.

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Though our mother had her own trials and tribulations over the years, Nancy was a true survivor. As the esteemed Elizabeth Edwards once wrote, regardless of how bad things got she stood “in the storm, and when the winds did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” This, too, is her legacy. To outlast any hardship. To rise up whenever we fall. To prevail.

And so today we celebrate the life of Nancy Kelly. It was a life of beautiful grace and unending hope in the goodness of both others and ourselves – the perpetual responsibility to always be our own best self, even during the most trying times.

To always think and act with kindness and generosity of spirit. To meet each new day and new challenge with a happy smile and great vigor. Nancy had this kind of passion for life that will endure long past her final breath.

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May the light of her spirit always warm our hearts with memories of Nancy. This is a spark and glow that can illuminate even the darkest of days. May we forever follow her exemplary example and carry the fire which sustains us and give us hope and faith. May her love never cease to inspire us and may we always find that love when we look back in awesome wonder and remember Nancy Kelly’s smiling face.

Always so comforting.

Always so serene.

Always at peace.

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