Maureen “Joy” Kelly, formerly of West Milford, N.J., passed away peacefully on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, in Greenwich Conn.
She was born March 9, 1932, in New York City.
Joy had a long, colorful and wonderful life well lived with many friends and a family that adored her. Joy was educated at The Academy of Saint Joseph in Brentwood, N.Y. Growing up the daughter of a celebrity had its privileges and Joy spent many nights mingling at the 21 Club and the Stork Club with moguls and movie stars, but found happiness surrounded by neighbors and friends when she worked at “the Bearfort,” a local pub in West Milford, N.J., where she spent many years as a barkeep. Joy worked there every holiday and always prepared a feast for those less fortunate. She enjoyed telling tales of her beloved grandfather, Welterweight Boxing Champion of the World, Jim Judge. She often exclaimed at family gatherings “Mysterious Billy Smith wasn’t so mysterious after getting in the ring with my grandpa!”
Joy loved music and her home was always filled with song. Even as Alzheimer’s stole her memory she could recall every line to every song she ever heard. She entertained residents, visitors and staff at Nathaniel Witherell in Greenwich with her beautiful voice.
Joy survived four husbands and whenever asked why she married so many times would reply, “I like weddings.”
Joy was stunningly beautiful on the outside, but inside she was even more so. She treated everyone with true kindness and compassion. Anyone that met her knew that “Joy” was the most appropriately named person - ever.
She enjoyed travel and spent many vacations around the world with her daughter Liz. They traveled often to the Caribbean, St. Tropez, and even celebrated Oktoberfest in Munich.
However, no vacation was as memorable as New Year’s Eve 1958 when Cuban rebels held her hostage. “One minute I was drinking champagne and looking gorgeous in a red velvet evening gown," she recalled, "and the next I was being loaded onto a cattle boat bound for Miami with a gun to my head.”
A colorful life indeed.
Joy is survived by her son Robert (Lanie) Kern; daughter Liz (Tom) Eckert; stepchildren Wayne (Linda) Kelly, Jeffrey Kelly, Patricia Singer and Candy (Jeff) Lord.
Joy was predeceased by her father, famed poet, song writer and columnist Nick Kenny, mother Kathryn Kenny (Judge), sister Patricia Goebel, as well as her children James Dickens and Kathryn (Don) Crosta and step-son Tom Kelly.
Her true joy in life was spending time with her five grandchildren Michael, Jeni and Kelly Repaci, Kathryn Kern and Kali Crosta. She was blessed with two great grandchildren in Jeremy and Ryan Shanks.
Her family would like to acknowledge and thank the staff of The Nathanial Witherell for the amazing care they provided our Joy in her final years.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate a donation in Joy’s honor be made to the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.
Mass and a celebration of Joy’s life will be held in the future when it is safe for everyone to attend.