Local Obits

Obituary of Mary (Morris) Kelsey


Mary Morris Kelsey, age 98, formerly of Dryden, NY, passed away peacefully at Kendal of Ithaca on March 6, 2023. She was born in Oswego, NY, the first of two daughters born to Lillian Rafferty Morris and Fred Bishop Morris, formerly from Shelbyville, Indiana. The family moved from Oswego to Ithaca, NY shortly after her birth. She is pre-deceased by her husband, Paul Manning Kelsey. She is survived by her sister, Margaret Morris Fletcher of Orchard Park, NY, and her three children, William Morris Kelsey (Tina) of Findlay, Ohio, John Manning Kelsey (Sally) of Northborough, MA, Robert Knox Kelsey (Lynne) of Kennebunk, ME, five grandchildren, Bart Kelsey (Emily) of Columbus, Ohio, Kimberly Kelsey Peplow (Hunter) of Columbus, OH, Drew Wilson Kelsey (Lindsey) of Shrewsbury, MA, Gregory Kelsey (Jennifer) of Louisville, KY and Eric Kelsey (Paula) of Winston-Salem, NC and ten great grandchildren, Gwen, Aria, and Elaine Kelsey of Columbus, OH, Isabella and Maddox Peplow of Columbus OH, Maxwell and Colten Kelsey of Shrewsbury MA, Andrew and Mary Kelsey of Louisville, KY, and Lawrence Kelsey of Winston-Salem, NC. Mary graduated from Ithaca High School, attended the University of Iowa, and was a graduate of Cornell University. She had a long, productive life, centered around her husband and children, remaining actively engaged in her children’s lives as their families grew. When her children were young, a new project could almost always be found on the kitchen table. (This pattern continued long after the boys were launched.) She and her husband, Paul, encouraged their boys to explore the outdoors and nature, leading to terrariums and aquariums throughout the house. She was active in the Dryden Cub Scouts as a Den Mother for many years, and she and Paul hosted several foreign exchange students. In her later years she was a volunteer driver for the Ithaca FISH Program. She befriended many foreign graduate student wives over many years, teaching them to cook American dishes in her own kitchen. She became like a surrogate mother to them. Mary loved gardening, particularly flower gardening. Planting a seed and watching it germinate and grow was a joy to her. She treasured her long walks through the fields behind her house in Dryden, as well as through Sapsucker Woods and the Plantations at Cornell. Shortly after her husband passed away in 1986, Mary took up photography – taking classes at Cornell and Tompkins County Community College. During those years, she self published several small books of her work and participated in a number of shows and exhibitions. She was selected to present a solo exhibition at Hood College in Maryland. Her work was shown at Willard Straight Hall, Cornell University, Tompkins County Community College, and Kendal at Ithaca. Mary was fascinated with the interplay light and shadow. Her work showcased her talent for seeing the little things other people didn’t notice. A private funeral is planned with a remembrance/memorial gathering later in the summer.

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