Hundreds of mourners came to the Dee J. Kelly Center on Wednesday afternoon to honor the life of the center’s namesake.
Mr. Kelly, 86, a TCU graduate of the class of 1950 who served on the board of trustees from 1971 to 2007, died last week.
Family, friends and coworkers remembered Mr. Kelly first at a memorial service at the University Christian Church and then at the reception, which immediately followed.
Dee J. Kelly Jr., Mr. Kelly’s son, thanked those gathered for their support.
“We’re grateful,” Kelly said. “It’s all we can hope for.”
Kelly recounted his father’s place in his life.
“My days began and ended with my dad,” Kelly said. “He meant everything to me.”
Patrick Kelly, a grandson of Mr. Kelly, is a first-year business major at TCU.
“I never knew him as Dee J. Kelly, he was just a grandfather,” Patrick Kelly said. “I’ve spent every Christmas with him. We didn’t miss one. I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
Patrick Kelly said his grandfather could be described as hardworking. He was the “epitome of how a successful man should grow up to be.”
“He was always there to listen no matter what,” Patrick Kelly said. “He was one of the most caring men I’ve ever met.”
He added that his grandfather encouraged him and all his brothers and sisters to go to college.
“He is the reason I’m at TCU, the reason every one of his grandchildren has a college education,” Patrick Kelly said.
Economics adjunct professor Harry Ledbetter was running for state treasurer in 1973, when he met Mr. Kelly.
“When I first got to know him was in the 1970s,” Ledbetter said. “Everyone told me, if you want to run for office, you need Dee J. Kelly’s support.”
Ledbetter said Mr. Kelly was fair and wanted what was best.
“He was considered a go-to for political support in Tarrant County,” Ledbetter said. “He wasn’t looking for favors, he just wanted to make sure the best person was elected.”
Mr. Kelly was a founding partner of the law firm Kelly Hart & Hallman. Beth Thurman, an associate with the firm said Mr. Kelly had a significant impact on Fort Worth.
“His presence was felt on a daily basis and his love for the community was felt on a daily basis,” Thurman said.