Richard D. Kelly, a man who “dedicated his life to the pursuit of learning and the dissemination of knowledge,” his family said, died, after a long illness, at his home on Lakeview Road, in East Berne, on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. He was 77.
Dr. Kelly, known to his family and friends as Dick, was born in Kingston, on Aug. 24, 1935, to Elwina and Delmer Kelly.
“A precocious student,” according to a tribute written by his family, Dr. Kelly received his bachelor of science degree from the University at Albany — then known as the New York State College for Teachers — in 1955 and his master of science degree from the same institution the next year. He earned his doctoral degree from Syracuse University in 1965.
He began teaching science at Guilderland High School in 1957, where he launched an advanced biology course for gifted students, which later became the basis for his dissertation.
In 1963, he joined the faculty at the University at Albany, where he taught until 1989. He was one of two recipients of the university’s first-ever Outstanding Teacher Awards, in 1972, and also won the Alumni Association’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1997.
Dr. Kelly also served on the Guilderland Board of Education from 1969 to 1972.
He taught for a year at the Hull College of Education, in England, where he was a visiting fellow, and for six years at the University of West Florida in Pensacola.
“He was known by his students and fellow professors for his passion for science, his humor, his fairness, and his innovative teaching style,” wrote his family.
He was a pioneer in incorporating film, audio, and other media into his classroom and labs.
Dr. Kelly was also an expert in marine mammals, especially whales and manatees. He was widely read in a variety of subjects, especially World War I aviation history, and he built sophisticated and complex WWI model airplanes.
He loved spending time in Thacher Park; he loved fine firearms, and hunting ruffed grouse in the woods; and he loved Bassett hounds, especially Walter, Henry, Georgie, and Barney.
“The family is grateful to have been a part of the Altamont community,” said his daughter, Kristen Korkos. “He loved the surroundings for hunting and hiking, especially Buttermilk Falls and Thacher Park, which he considered his church.”
He loved the natural world and always encouraged his children to spend time outside, said Mrs. Korkos.
“He made many of his closest friends talking about guns and hunting at J&J Supply,” she said. “The owners of Altamont Orchards always enjoyed when he hunted on the property with his dog, Walter.”
He liked sitting on his porch on fall and summer evenings as the neighbors went for walks and stopped in to chat, his daughter said.
His family was also his passion.
Dr. Kelly is survived by his wife of 58 years, Marianne Peckham Kelly, of East Berne and Pensacola, Fla.; his children, Kristen Korkos, and her husband, Dennis, of San Francisco, Calif., Don Kelly, and his wife Donna, of Altamont, and Kate Kelly, and her husband, Bernard Ohanian, of Washington, D.C.; his grandchildren, Jaime Korkos, and her partner, Sumer Genis, of Norwood, Mass., Nicholas Korkos, of San Francisco, Calif., Raffi and Sofia Ohanian, of Washington, D.C., and Madison and Emma Kelly of Altamont.
He is also survived by his brother, Donald, and his wife, Suzanne, of Bainbridge Island, Wash., and his brothers-in-law Tom, David, Bill, and Larry Peckham, and their families.
At Dr. Kelly’s request, there will be no calling hours or funeral service. Arrangements are by the Fredendall Funeral Home.
The family would like to express deep gratitude to the team from the Community Hospice of Albany County.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Hospice of Albany County, 445 New Karner Road, Albany, NY 12205.
— Anne Hayden