Richard J. Kelly


Richard J. Kelly, also known as Dick or Captain Kelly, passed away on June 3, 2024, at the age of 91. 

He was born on March 1, 1933, at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and was one of seven children of Henry and Mary Catherine (Doyle) Kelly. Richard grew up in the family house on Simpson Lane, and spent his entire life in Edgartown.

Richard completed his education at Edgartown High School in 1952. While attending school, he was employed at the corner drugstore on Main Street, presently called the Corner Store. Post-graduation, he secured a position at the First National Grocery Store (currently the Port Hunter), remaining there until it shut down. Subsequently, he moved to the Vineyard Haven store (now housing the Post Office and Cumberland Farms), recounting tales of his 15-year tenure. Following its closure, he took up employment at A&P, which was eventually rebranded as Stop & Shop, serving there until he retired in 1995. 

His greatest passion in life was serving the community as a member of the Edgartown Fire Department. He dedicated himself to the department from 1956 to 2002, holding positions such as firefighter, lieutenant, captain, and eventually retiring as senior captain. Even after retiring, Richard continued to contribute to the department by joining the Board of Fire Engineers. In total, he served the department for an impressive 68 years. 

Upon retiring from the grocery industry, Richard dedicated himself to preserving the history of the Edgartown Fire Department. What began as a hobby of collecting photographs and memorabilia from the fire station and local residents eventually led to the creation of the Edgartown Fire Museum. He expressed profound gratitude to those who contributed to the museum’s expansion in 2007. As the sole remaining firefighter to have served on both trucks preserved at the museum, Richard’s expertise was vital for their maintenance and restoration. He took great joy in greeting visitors, both young and old, eager to share his experiences with all who were interested. 

In his free time, Richard enjoyed exploring the states of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. However, his favorite place away from the Vineyard was Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, where both of his parents were born and raised before immigrating to the U.S. He and his wife built a small cottage on the water’s edge, on land that was once his grandparents’ farm. Richard often remarked that the area evoked memories of the Vineyard as it was in the 1950s and 1960s. He cherished the time spent with his cousins and the company of lifelong friends.

Richard also had a passion for playing cribbage, and could often be found playing with the duty crew and others at the fire station at 3 o’clock every day. The slamming of the fire station’s back door and the aroma of brewing coffee were as punctual as clockwork. He became a member of the M.V. Cribbage Club, and eagerly participated in the weekly tournaments. He enjoyed the camaraderie and friendships he found here. Richard will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Richard was deeply devoted to his family. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Susan (Fligor) Kelly, and her children, Karen Gilcrest of Seattle, Wash., Susan Hill of Edgartown, and Kenneth Hill of Edgartown, along with her grandchildren. Richard loved them as if they were his own, enjoying the moments shared, particularly the walks with Susie around Eel Pond.

Richard’s only child from his first marriage, Richard (“Andrew”) Kelly, and his two granddaughters, Harper Mary Catherine Kelly and Thayer Margaret Kelly, were well-known to those close to him. His greatest joy was unmistakably his son Andrew. Their remarkable bond was evident to all who encountered them. Richard harbored immense pride in his son’s achievements, particularly his dedication to his children, the community and its people, and his continuation of the family legacy at the fire department.

Richard also leaves behind his beloved sister, Patricia Margaret Kelly McLeod, who is 98 years old and resides in Edgartown. Richard was predeceased by his brothers Edward Kelly, Martin Kelly, and Henry Kelly, as well as his sisters Jennette Kelly Vincent and Sara Marie Kelly, and leaves behind several nieces and nephews. 

Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday, June 15, beginning with a ceremony at 11 am at St. Andrew’s Church on North Summer Street, followed by a procession to the graveside at Old West Side Cemetery. The family invites all to a reception at the fire museum afterward to share stories, with light refreshments provided. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Edgartown Fire Museum Fund,P.O. Box 737, Edgartown, MA 02539.