But I’m certainly aware that the list of activities, while impressive, doesn’t do full justice to the impact George had in so many areas of community life. Add enthusiasm, his spontaneous laugh and that omnipresent smile as essential ingredients to the full measure of George Washington Kelly.
George’s participation was not only wide-ranging, but sustained. When he took on a project, he stuck with it. Typical were his 27 years as an elder of the First Presbyterian Church, 18 years heading the Tracy Salvation Army Committee and more than a decade as chairman of the American Legion’s Law and Order Night.
With today’s column, I’m including several photos of George to illustrate just a few of his activities over the years in Tracy.
There are many more photos of George I could have run, showing that buoyant personality in action, but space does not permit.
One photo I took of George a quarter-century ago isn’t included. There had been a fire at Central School, and I went over to the school to snap a photo. “Mr. Kelly” — as Central students, including my daughters, Laurie and Meg, called their nurturing principal — showed me where the flames had done their damage.
When the photo came out in the Press, several people asked me why George Kelly was smiling as he looked over the fire damage. I suppose I hadn’t really thought much about George’s smile, which I had been so used to. But quickly I replied, “Because George always smiles,” adding something to give George some cover: “And, besides, he was glad the fire did such little damage.”
Over the years, George and I would occasionally chuckle about the photo and the smile that even a fire at his school couldn’t turn to a frown.
A memorial service for George will be at 10 a.m. Monday, July 30, at the First Presbyterian Church. At the service, I’m sure there will be many other remembrances of George, his contributions, his enthusiasm, his long-term commitments — and his smile.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or email@example.com.