Caleb Kelly Jr., 95, lacrosse expert

September 02, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,[sun reporter]

Caleb Redgrave Kelly Jr., a retired attorney who played for Johns Hopkins at the 1932 Olympics games and was an expert on lacrosse rules, died of a stroke Aug. 26 at William Hill Manor in Easton. The former Cockeysville resident was 95.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Bolton Street, he was a 1929 Friends School graduate. He began playing lacrosse while a junior in high school. He earned an undergraduate degree from the Johns Hopkins University and was captain of the school's basketball team and a lacrosse midfielder. While in college he won six varsity letters.

With his Hopkins lacrosse team members, including his younger brother, Donaldson N. Kelly, he competed against Canada in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic games. The U.S. team defeated Canada, and Mr. Kelly later lent his gold Olympic medal to St. Paul's School, where it remains.

"The crowds we played before in the Olympics are my greatest memory," he said in a 2004 interview in Lacrosse magazine. "It's true that when we had 105,000 in the stands, the people were there for the Olympic marathon, but for the other two games we played, I believe there were 50,000 people there. That was impressive."

He also played for the Baltimore Athletic Club's lacrosse team in the 1930s while a student at the University of Maryland. He earned a law degree there in 1938.

During World War II, he was a physical training instructor and special services officer for the Air Force. He remained in the Air Force Reserves and retired in 1968 as a lieutenant colonel.

Mr. Kelly was an avid bicycle rider and would pedal from Baltimore to Annapolis before the Bay Bridge was constructed. In the Maryland capital, he transferred to the old Chesapeake Bay ferry and traveled to Claiborne in Talbot County, where he played tennis, swam and danced.

There me met his future wife, Adine Dow Cockey, whose family owned and operated Maple Hall, a summer boardinghouse and farm. They married Oct. 26, 1946.

"He always loved music," Mrs. Kelly said yesterday. "In fact, his last audible words to me were, `Let's dance.'"

He was a University of Baltimore lacrosse coach in the early 1950s and a lacrosse referee for 16 years. A past president of the Southern Lacrosse Officials Association, in 1959 he wrote Lacrosse Rules, the standard of the game for many years.

"Everyone involved in the game knew he had written the book," said Bill Tanton former Evening Sun sports editor and an editor of Lacrosse magazine. "Being a lawyer, he was a fanatic and stickler on detail."

Mr. Tanton recalled that in 1959, when lacrosse had no hall of fame, Mr. Kelly said, "Let's start one. He set up the bylaws and kept the records in his desk drawer at the Munsey Building until the thing got off the ground. If any coach in America wanted to know something, Caleb would look in his desk drawer."

For many years, Mr. Kelly practiced law in downtown Baltimore and later had an office at his home on Padonia Road. He moved to the Eastern Shore in 1992 and worked until he was 92. He walked more than a mile daily to get the mail until this year.

Services are private.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two sons, Caleb Redgrave Kelly III of Cockeysville and David Donaldson Kelly of Royal Oak; and three grandchildren.

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