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In Memoriam: Mary Jane Kelly

Photo provided by Ron Kelly.

Longtime Canyon Lake resident Mary Jane Kelly passed away on February 1, 2024, from a horrible and very rare brain disease – cortical basal degeneration. First, it robbed her of her ability to control her limbs, then it stole her ability to talk clearly. A terrible thing for someone who loved to talk. She was alert, but unfortunately knew she was trapped in her body and couldn’t communicate.

Mary Jane met her husband, Ronald Kelly, at one of the Saturday night dances for teenagers sponsored by the Johnstown, PA, Masonic Lodge. They danced and fell in love.

Five years later, they were married a few days after Ron graduated from college. They left that day in Ron’s 48 Ford and drove to California. Mary Jane transferred to UCLA for one semester but had to go back to Pennsylvania to do her student teaching so she could graduate with a B.S. from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Mary Jane is survived by her husband of 68 years Ronald Kelly, son Thomas Kelly (wife Kristy), daughter Susan Barnes (husband Thomas), grandson Travis Barnes (wife Kaylee), grandson Trevor Barnes, and great-granddaughters Harper and Raegan Barnes.

Mary Jane was born in Johnstown Pennsylvania. Her parents were Louis and Marian O’Leslie. She was a member of the Alpha Sigma Sorority, a Las Primeras member of the Assistance League, the Orange County Wine Society, and a Girl Scout leader. She taught Home Economics and many other subjects for the Los Angeles School District.

Upon retiring in 1993 she moved to Canyon Lake where she was an active participant in many clubs – Woman’s Club, Travel Club, Women’s Golf Club, Fine Arts Guild, and Ladies of the Lake. She was President of Panhellenic, a founder of the Social Dance Club, a social member of the Chair Volleyball Club, and was especially proud of her work as the Membership Chairman of the Yacht Club. As a member of Cotillion, she was able to combine her joy of teaching and working with young people.

Mary Jane deeply loved her family, dance (especially the two-step), and traveling. She was a fervent fan of Steelers and UCLA football. She delighted in throwing UCLA/USC football game parties (when UCLA won). She also loved good wine, particularly buttery Chardonnays and aged Cabernets. Trips to California wine country were savored.

Mary Jane exemplified the meaning of a (devoted) daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was forever generous, loving, caring, and family-oriented. She saw the beauty in our wonderful world and shared her insights so willingly with others.

A memorial service will be held at the Chapel of the Canyon Lake Community Church on March 2 at 11 a.m.

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