Whether in person or over the phone, customers of the Portsmouth Daily Times could always rely on John Kelly to get the job done.
Last week, the Portsmouth Daily Times received the news we never wanted to hear about our friend and co-worker. Kelly, who had worked at the Daily Times for several years in circulation, had passed on. A resident of New Boston, Ohio, Kelly passed away Feb. 27, 2021, at SOMC Hospice in Portsmouth.
A son of John and Susan Kelly, he was a graduate of Ironton High School. Kelly was employed with the Ironton Tribune for more than 30 years and with the Portsmouth Times for several years until he left the company in March 2020. During his time at the Daily Times, Kelly was the go-to person with his vibrant personality, knowledge of the county and always looking to have a great time.
“John was the first person in the circulation department that I was introduced to when I was sent to be the manager in 2013,” Ed Litteral said. “Though I had more than 30 years in the newspaper business, I did not know circulation very well. John was always ready to answer my many questions. He used to say that “circulation got into your blood.”
Kelly loved telling stories about being a circulation manager in Ironton and he truly enjoyed his work. Before the pandemic, many Daily Times customers would go to the office to sit and chat with Kelly and hear his stories.
“He made long mornings pass by quickly with his humor and his ability to joyfully serve customers was unmatched,” Litteral said. “The office is not the same without him.”
Along with Kelly’s storytelling skills, Kelly also made it his mission to make people laugh. Throughout his time at the newspaper Kelly was known for his jokes and funny commentary. At any given time during the workday, Kelly was always ready to crack a joke.
“John Kelly kept me laughing and was a joy to work with,” Amy Albrecht said. “He was like a grandpa to me. I loved hearing stories about his bird Dolly. When I first started working at the paper, customers didn’t want to talk to me. They always asked for ‘that old guy up front.’ John had a way with the customers, and they loved him.”
“I met John Kelly when we were working in the old Times building before I became a full-time employee. When I think about John, I think of how he would always say hello and ask me how my mom was (she is close to John in age.) He will never know how much that meant to me,” Kimberly Jenkins said. “There are so many funny things about John too. He could never decide what he wanted to eat and our CSR at the time, Jessica Dekarske, would order for him. When he got his food, it never failed, he would always have something to say about it not being this or that and we would all just crack up. John loved Dolly Parton and even had a photo of her above his desk. John talked a lot about his bird Dolly and would tell the story about how he would leave the TV on for her to watch Days of our Lives. He shared she would quote lines from the show as he would walk in the door each evening.”
Kelly was also known for his willingness to help. Whether it was a concerned customer, a new employee, or helping someone get over their fears, Kelly would always step in whenever he could to help or fix a situation.
“When I started working for the Times last year, I was extremely nervous to be starting a new job, but John made the transition into my new position so much easier,” Megan Sessor said. “The first conversation I had with him made it seem like I was reuniting with an old friend, not meeting a stranger for the first time and I witnessed him having that experience with everybody he met. John was an extremely kind and generous man, and I will never forget the impact he has had on me and my life, even if I only knew him for a short time. John will be very missed but definitely not forgotten.”
Daily Times Publisher Hope Comer recalled a special moment with Kelly at the county fair, which he loved to go to and talk to readers and customers.
“Every year, he was excited to work the county fair. He would get a mailbag and hand out sponsored copies of the newspaper, old school style,” Comer said. “In 2018, John even talked me into riding the Ferris wheel with him despite my fear of heights. He lived life and had fun doing it. He is truly missed by our subscribers and staff.”
At John’s request, there will be no service. The family requests donations be made to SOMC Hospice, Portsmouth, Ohio.