Residents across Norfolk County mourning the loss of “Red” Kelly

 

ONE of the most decorated hockey players of all time, Leonard Patrick “Red” Kelly, passed away peacefully on Thursday, May 2 at Toronto’s Sunnybrook-Holland Rehabilitation Centre in his 92nd year.
“Mr. Kelly was best known for what he did on the ice, but he was much more than a Stanley Cup champion and Hockey Hall of Famer,” said Norfolk County’s Deputy Mayor Amy Martin. “He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, a community leader, and a terrific ambassador for all of Norfolk County. He was a true gentleman who did everything with honour. I think I speak for everyone in Norfolk when I say he will be sorely missed.”
Norfolk County lowered the flags at Governor Simcoe Square to half-staff in honour of Mr. Kelly.
“Red” Kelly grew up on the family’s tobacco farm near Blue Line Road and St. Johns Road. He learned his early hockey skills on farm ponds along the section of road that is now called ‘Red Kelly Lane’.
In Port Dover, “Red” Kelly has always been considered a local hero. As a youth, he played his first organized hockey in Port Dover.
In November 2017, he attended Port Dover Minor Hockey Association’s 75th anniversary reunion taking the opportunity to sign copies of a recently published book about his life.
That same day, as part of the Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial Banner Tour, “Red” Kelly’s banner that had hung at the Air Canada Centre came to Port Dover Arena permanently. During the ceremony, the NHL Hall of Famer and his wife Andra watched as the banner was unveiled.


Above: Red Kelly at Port Dover Arena in 2017 for Minor Hockey’s 75th anniversary and the unveiling of his banner.


The Port Dover Minor Hockey organization said it was “deeply saddened by the passing of Red Kelly. We send our deepest condolences to the entire Kelly family, as the hockey world mourns the loss.”
To honour his memory and outstanding athletic contributions, the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition has a display of Red Kelly memorabilia and a book of condolence for the public to view and sign at the Sports Hall located in the pool viewing area at the Annaleise Carr Aquatic Centre, 182 South Drive in Simcoe.
Heather King, Vice Chair of Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition said “he was very proud of his Norfolk County roots and was a friend and supporter of our local sports community. We will miss him.”
“Red” Kelly was the son of Pete and Frances Kelly. He attended St. Michael’s College in Toronto where he led the school to three provincial championships, culminating in the 1947 Memorial Cup.
His immediate signing with the NHL Detroit Red Wings would ensure four Stanley Cups in a six-year period. As their top defenceman, he would garner three Lady Byng’s for gentlemanly play and the first Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenceman. He would be chosen to six First All-Star teams and two Second Teams. Ever patriotic, he would represent the NHL on a very successful goodwill tour to Canadian and UN peacekeeping troops in Korea in 1954.
After joining the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1960, he switched to centre and helped them win four Stanley Cups and would collect another Lady Byng. He is the only non-Montreal Canadiens to have won eight Stanley Cups.
While playing for Toronto, he would be elected a Liberal Member of Parliament for the federal riding of York-West in the 1962 and 1963 general elections.
After retiring in 1967, he would be the first coach of the expansion Los Angeles Kings before coaching the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs. Who could ever forget his innovative Pyramid Power in the 1976 playoffs?
“Red” loved to dance, especially with Andra and could often be found singing like Bing Crosby while he played the piano. He was Founder and President of CAMP Systems of Canada from 1977 to 1997.
“Red” was elected to the Ontario and Canadian Halls of Fame and to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969. He is one of the few players in NHL history whose number has been retired by two teams. The Maple Leafs retired his No. 4 in October of 2016, and the Red Wings recently on February 1, 2019. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 2002. His autobiography “The Red Kelly Story” won the 2016 Ontario Speaker’s Book Award.
In its announcement, the family says “it seems almost fitting that Red would take his final shift on this earth on the 52nd anniversary of his and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ last Stanley Cup victory in 1967.”
“Red” was the husband of 59 years to Andra Kelly (nee McLaughlin). Cherished father of Casey (James Waddell), Patrick (Karen Courtland), Conn (Molly Ann McShane) and Kitty (Kevin McGorry). His grandchildren are: George, Charles, Bruce, Maeve, Sean, Andra, Molly and Katie.
He is survived by his brother Joe (Margaret dec. and Jean dec.) and sisters Laureen Montague (Michael dec.) and Helen Dubniczky (Frank), all who live locally. Predeceased by sister Frances Erickson (Roland dec.). More than all the awards, it was well known that nothing meant more to “Red” than his beloved family.
The family will receive friends at the Morley Bedford Funeral Home, 159 Eglinton Ave. West, Toronto, on Thursday, May 9 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 354 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, on Friday, May 10 at 10:00 a.m. Private interment.

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