Volunteer work earned A&B spokesman praise
John Kelley / 1945-2006
John Kelley wasn't one to sit still.
He was a longtime spokesman for Alexander & Baldwin Inc., a triathlete and a supporter of economic education and the arts.
But despite his excellent physical condition, Kelley, 60, died Wednesday, just 11 weeks after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
"It is hard for those of us who know John as an avid runner, swimmer and bicyclist to think that he could succumb to any health challenge in such a short time, but he faced a remarkably aggressive form of brain tumor," said Chris Benjamin, A&B's senior vice president and chief financial officer. "He fought it with courage and a positive attitude, as well as tremendous support from his wife, Kathy, his children and his friends."
Kelley, vice president of investor relations for A&B since 1988, was known as an "ambassador" in local and financial circles. He had worked for A&B since 1979, when he joined shipping subsidiary Matson Navigation Co. as director of corporate planning.
"His decades of service to A&B developed in him a passion and deep understanding that impressed our shareholders," said Allen Doane, chairman, president and chief executive of A&B. "He understood our varied businesses as well as anyone and had a patient, clear means of communicating the nuances of each. John was highly regarded."
Kelley, a treasurer and former president of the Hawaii Bicycling League, also was involved in swimming, running and sailing.
But Faye Saiki, owner of the Bike Shop, remembers Kelley most for what he did for bicycling.
"He actually saved Hawaii Bicycling League," Saiki said. "It was about to disappear from the Hawaii scene in the '90s, but he brought people from the community together to help get it back on track."
Kelley also devoted decades of his life volunteering for educational and artistic endeavors. He was on the board of the Hawaii Council on Economic Education for 19 years, and helped launch Hawaii Public Radio and restore the Hawaii Theatre.
"He was a mentor to me and an inspiration to our board for 19 years. That's commitment," said Kristine Castagnaro, executive director of the Hawaii Council on Economic Education. "His commitment was to Hawaii's children and to economic literacy in our state. He was outstanding in what he did because of his level of his commitment. That's why he was so admired."
Kelley also served as president of the board of trustees at Hanahauoli School.
"He had a deep affection for Hanahauoli, and he showed it every time he was on campus," said Bob Peters, head of the school. "Not only was he excited about the education that was happening here, but he provided a quiet, steady leadership as we considered the future of our school."
Services will be held at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki.
Donations can be made to the John B. Kelley Endowment Fund established by the Hawaii Bicycling League; the John B. Kelley Scholarship Fund established at Hanahauoli School; or to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard, earmarked for glioblastoma translational research.
Kelley is survived by wife Kathy Merrill Kelley; son Rob and daughter Lauren; sister Joan McGill; stepdaughters Lisa Hemmeter, Kirsten Merrill and Kimmy Everett; and former wife Anne Sherwood.