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Saying Goodbye to a Member of the Baylor Law Family

From The Dean's Desk

Judge Larry E. Kelly, 1946-2014

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Baylor Law School adjunct professor, Judge Larry Earl Kelly (JD '74), passed away peacefully with his family at his bedside at his home in Waco on March 19, 2014. He was 68.

Kelly was born Jan. 9, 1946, at the Banana River Florida Naval Air Station to Arthur Earl and Maggie Frances Brannen Kelly. He spent most of his childhood living at various military bases in the South. He graduated from Westbury High School in Houston, Texas. Larry began his college career at Austin College, but during his freshman year he transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, where he would meet his future wife, Suzanne Veiluva.

In June of 1966, he followed his father's footsteps and joined the United States Navy. After training in Pensacola, he was assigned to a base near San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he served as a communications specialist for three and a half years.

In March of 1969, Kelly married Suzanne, who was finishing graduate school at Baylor University. She joined him in Puerto Rico to finish out his tour. Kelly returned to the University of Texas in June of 1970 to complete his degree. He graduated with a B.S. in political science cum laude, moved to Waco, and began Baylor Law School in January 1972. He always credited local attorney Dan Mayfield and Dean Angus McSwain with convincing him to attend Baylor, rather than the University of Texas Law School.

In 1974, Kelly received his JD degree cum laude from Baylor Law School and joined the law firm of Pakis, Cherry, Beard and Giotes. For the rest of his life, he credited William Pakis as being a great teacher and mentor. While a local attorney, Kelly was a member of the Young Lawyers Association, the McLennan County Bar Association, and served on the boards of Legal Aid and Mission Waco.

In 1986, Kelly was appointed to the bench as a United States federal bankruptcy judge for the Western District of Texas. He spent 20 years of his judicial career as chief judge for the Western District, holding court in El Paso, Midland, and San Antonio. He maintained a staff and courts in Austin and Waco, and was a member of many bar organizations. Kelly was appointed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist to serve on the Federal Judicial Center Committee on Bankruptcy Judges Education from 1991-1994. Kelly was the chairman of the National Council of Bankruptcy Judges Automation Committee/ Web Page from 1995 to 2006. He was credited with establishing its website, bringing technology to the bankruptcy court system, and serving on many automation committees. He was the recipient of numerous awards for his service to the NCBJ. In 2008, he was honored with the Judge Larry E. and Suzanne V. Kelly Endowed Baylor Law School Scholarship Fund.

After health problems caused him to retire during his second term on the bench, Kelly joined the law firm of Beard, Kultgen, Brophy, Bostwick, Dickson and Squires. Since 1984 until the present, he served as an adjunct professor of law at Baylor Law School, educating future lawyers in the field of bankruptcy law. He truly loved to teach.

During his lifetime, Kelly's favorite pastime was traveling with his family -- especially the numerous Christmas trips to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Lake Tahoe. He enjoyed fishing trips, dove hunting, snow skiing, lots of golf, his poker group, and riding his Honda Goldwing with groups of friends. During his later years, he enjoyed spending time with his family, his cats, and the deer at the Canyon Oaks Creek House -- hosting lots of family members, friends, and out-of-town visitors. Although he was also a Longhorn, he was an avid fan and season ticket holder for the Lady Bears. A highlight for him was being at the 2005 Championship game in Indianapolis. Most of all, Kelly was a loving husband and father of three wonderful sons. He was thrilled and felt so blessed by the addition of his beautiful daughters-in-law. His greatest joy was being a "Poppy" to his two adored grandchildren, Annalise and Andrew.

His father, Arthur Kelly, and an infant son preceded him in death.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Suzanne; three children, Ryan Kelly and wife, Andi; Kevin Kelly and wife, Jennifer; and Michael Kelly and fiancee, Ellen Eoff; two grandchildren, Annalise and Andrew Kelly; his mother, Frances Galbraith and husband, Charles; sister, Norma Franklin; brother, Jim Hillin and wife, Kim; and mother-in-law, Dorothy Veiluva. Survivors also include sisters-in-law, Shelly Brock and Denise Wilkerson and husband, Carl; brother-in-law, Michael Veiluva and wife, Mardi; plus many nieces and nephews.

Kelly always appreciated his great friends, his law partners and his office staff, the Baylor Law School faculty, and his court and office staffs throughout the years. Memorials may be made to the Larry and Suzanne Kelly Endowed Bankruptcy Law Scholarship at Baylor Law School or to Mission Waco.

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