Valentine's Inspiration for Lasting Love: The Kellys of The Arbors At Buck Run
Married 72 Years and a Source of Inspiration to Many
February and March, 2013 have several dates of special significance for Jim and Anne Kelly, an inspiring, long-married couple who reside at The Arbors at Buck Run in Feasterville / Trevose. Married 72 years, when asked about the key ingredients to their successful marriage, they said their formula is …. mutual respect, cooperation, shared interests and, for them, the central role of their faith.
The months of February and March are significant to them for several reasons:
- On February 2, Jim Kelly blew out the candles on his 94th birthday cake, sharing the day of celebration with his large family and especially his youngest child Susanne, who was also born on February 2.
• On Valentine’s Day, the Kellys honor their long and happy marriage, which began in Philadelphia’s Lawncrest section at St. William’s parish with their wedding in October of 1941. Their bond produced eleven children, which they raised primarily in Holland, Lower Bucks County and also down the shore in Avalon.
• February and March bring the season of Lent and Easter, a spiritual time for a couple deeply connected to their Roman Catholic faith.
• And March 17 brings St. Paddy’s Day, when the surname Kelly is a cause for celebration.
With so much to celebrate during February and March, the couple recently reflected on how their shared values were applied on a day to day basis in their very full and busy household.
“She’s a beautiful girl,” Kelly said of his wife Anne, with the smile of a man still smitten and feeling fortunate to have won the bride who has shared his life for almost 72 years. The former Anne Michel met Jim Kelly through a girlfriend while she was still a student at Hallahan High, and was four years younger than Jim, who had already graduated from Roman Catholic High. Because of their age difference, they were surprised to discover they grew up around the block from each other in the same parish in Lawncrest.
In detailing how mutual respect has factored in over the decades, Jim admired Anne’s outstanding parenting of their many children and her superb financial management of a complex household. A busy sales executive for the Honeywell company, Jim Kelly relied on his wife’s ability to guide eleven children on the right path. “All the kids turned out great,” Anne shared, with a smile of pride and contentment. “Anne was the one who kept them in line,” acknowledged Jim. “I was the softy. But she’s right. They’re all wonderful and we have constant contact with our family. We now have five generations! When it came to the household decisions, Anne and I cooperated, but she had the last word on anything about the house. That was her special domain.”
Life has handed the Kellys several trials, which they have faced with the support of their faith. Their firstborn child, Jim, was killed in Vietnam in 1965 early in the war, shortly after graduating from LaSalle College. Another child died in adulthood as a result of cigarette smoking, a cautionary tale which Jim Kelly insists on sharing as a warning to all who fail to recognize the dangers. The loving company of their nine remaining children and their extended families – now spread from Lower Bucks to Chicago, Virginia and Cape May County, NJ – is a source of constant joy. “We always were faithful about going to church and receiving the sacraments,” Jim shared. “We were very involved in our parishes at St. Bede’s in Holland and later at St. Cyril’s in Jamison. When times got hard, I suppose we had God’s blessing. I don’t know. I guess you could say it was a ‘state of grace,’ and difficulties worked themselves out,” he reflected with a grateful smile.
Jim and Anne’s shared passion for the seashore has been a defining feature of their long marriage. In the early 1960s, they acquired an old house in Avalon and that was the family’s summer focal point for decades. And when their children were starting to leave the nest, winter vacation escapes to Marco Island were equally fun for Jim and Anne. “The Avalon house was a special place for us to be together,” Jim and Anne both acknowledged. A treasured possession in their residence at The Arbors at Buck Run is a painting of the Kelly's old seashore house --- a true summer home, which is now gone from the family but will never be forgotten.
With St. Patrick’s Day approaching on March 17, Jim – who is known to break into song with little encouragement – is ready to lead the chorus of the old tune “Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly? K-E-DOUBLE-L-Y” for anyone who asks. “That’s me. I was always a guy who loved sports. I love a song, I love the Super Bowl and I’ve always found some fun.” To his children, though, their favorite tune that dad sings is the one Jim sang in a strong voice to their mother when he was 92 at their 70th anniversary in October of 2011. It was “True Love,” the Cole Porter song made famous by the Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly movie “High Society.” “That’s how I feel about Anne" he said with a smile, while sentimental tears welled up softly. "She’s a wonderful girl.”