John Joseph Kelly
John Joseph Kelly
  • November 29, 1920 - May 13, 2017
  • Dumfries, Virginia

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Demaine Funeral Home

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Alexandria, VA 22314
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John Joseph Kelly, Jr. died peacefully at the Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, Alexandria, VA on May 13, 2017 at the age of 96.
John is survived by his children, Pam Deeter (Tom) Houston , TX, Patrick Kelly (Janice) Marietta, OH, and John Kelly (Jodie, Fiancée) Montclair, VA; 5 grandchildren, Patrick James Kelly, Kristel Kelly Luczak (Ron), Katelyn Kelly, Julie Deeter, and Merrilee Deeter Colunga (Jacob); 5 great grandchildren, Colton Luczak, Mason Luczak, Jackson Luczak, Isabelle Luczak, and Lily Colunga. He was preceded in death by his wife, Rita Elizabeth Kelly, his sister, Jeanine Colen, and his parents.
John was born on November 29, 1920 in Golbey, Vosges, France to John J and Louise Kelly. He graduated from United States Military Academy, West Point in 1943 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering. He married his wife Rita in 1943 in Central Islip, NY. They were married for almost 72 years. He was assigned to the 204 Engineer Combat Battalion, then the 1103 Engineer Combat Group which departed for the European Theater of Operations (ETO) in December 1943. As Asst S3 and S3 he received the ETO ribbon with 5 battle stars. Returned and attended State University of Iowa with a Master of Science Degree in 1947. John was an ROTC Instructor at the University of Pittsburgh for 3 years. He went to Austria in 1950 for assignment with the 70 Engineer C Battalion and Engineer Section HQUSFA. Returned December 1951. From 1952 - 1956 he was with the NY District Corps of Engineers as Resident Engineer supervising construction for reactivating Fort Terry on Plum Island off eastern Long Island, NY. As a guest of the Air Force, moved to Goose Bay, Labrador for two years to direct the construction of Radar Sites and Air Base facilities. Then he spent two years in Monterey, CA at the Naval Postgraduate School and earned a Master of Science Degree in Nuclear Physics. Promoted to LTC in July 1959, he was assigned to Fort Ord, CA as Commanding Officer of the 84th Engineer Battalion. From 1961 to 1963 he worked in the Office of the Corps of Engineers in the Civil Defense Support Group. John served a year as the Deputy Director of the Army Nuclear Power Program. John received a number of awards during his service in the Army including the Bronze Star Medal, National Defense Service Medals, World War II Victory Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the American Campaign Medal. John retired from the Army in June 1964. He joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as an engineer in the Apollo Lunar Landing Program. He also served as the Director of Budget and Control for the Apollo Program and the Chief of Spacelab Program Support. John retired from NASA on October 2, 1981 after 17 years.
John was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 5998 and a 4th Degree Knight in Assembly No. 2204, Alexandria, VA.
John was also an avid golfer and had played at St Andrews Links, Scotland. John and Rita traveled to Ireland for many years to visit relatives.

John and his family had moved and lived in a number of locations with the military before settling in Alexandria, VA. John has resided at The Fairfax at Belvoir Woods for a few years prior to his recent illness.
A visitation will be held at Demaine Funeral Home, 520 S. Washington St, Alexandria, VA on May 18, 2017 from 2-4PM and 6-8PM with a Rosary at 7:00 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St Louis Catholic Church, 2907 Popkins Lane, Alexandria VA on Friday, May 19, 2017 at 12:30 pm, with a reception to follow at St Louis Walsh Hall. Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, October 12, 2017. All are welcome to attend and celebrate John Kelly's life. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St Louis Catholic Church, 2907 Popkins Lane, Alexandria VA. Condolences can be sent to, The family would like to thank all The FAIRFAX staff for their support and efforts during his residency.

Arrangements under the direction of Demaine Funeral Home, Alexandria, VA.