Francis J. Kelley, 82, of Billings, died March 6, 2019, in Billings.
Frank was born Dec. 23, 1936, in Blackstone, Rhode Island. He was the only child of Francis “Fran” Kelley and Sylvia Kelley from Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
Frank had a love of airplanes and flight starting in his childhood days. He enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving four years of active duty, including deployment to Korea. He then served another four years in the Air Force Reserve at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, where he earned an engineering degree and met his wife, Ruth Krause. After eight years of service to his country, Frank joined the Federal Aviation Administration, where he worked for 29 years.
He married his loving wife of 62 years, Ruthie, on Nov. 8, 1956. They began to build a family, raising three children, Kathy, Mark and Mike. Over the years, each child became adults, choosing different paths in life with the freedom to seek and realize their goals and dreams.
One of the most significant changes in Ruthie and Frank lives was when they became empty-nesters. Very quickly their love and commitment became as vibrant as the day they fell in love back in Great Falls. They lived an inseparable lifestyle, constantly caring for each other.
On par with Frank’s passion for flight was his immense love of golf. He was deeply involved with the golf community at Yegen Golf Club, where he served on the men’s league board for many years. Weather permitting, Frank played golf every day and gave much of his time to improve the game of golf for others up until months before his passing.
Like his wife Ruthie, simple things brought Frank happiness. He loved animals, especially dogs and cats. More than anything, he loved Ruthie. On Jan. 7, 2019, he got the worst news any husband can get; his wife Ruthie passed away while he was still in the hospital fighting to get healthy enough for them to be together again. She had suffered with Alzheimer’s for several years and he was her sole caregiver. Her passing was devastating, as he lost the love of his life and best friend.
Frank is survived by three children, Kathy (Kelley) Munden and husband Kevin, Mark Kelley and wife Kelly, and Michael Kelley and partner Lisa; brother-in-law Richard Krause; niece Virginia (Ginny) Potter, her husband David and daughter Emily; and nephew Paul Krause and partner Nicola.
He was preceded in death by his parents Fran and Sylvia Kelley, sister-in-law Carol Krause, and wife Ruthie.
The back to back passing of Ruthie and Frank has been most difficult. The family would like to thank close friends who have been with them every day throughout this journey, the team of resources that continue to help today, and the entire care teams at Billings Clinic, Morning Star Senior Living and RiverStone Hospice Home. Each and every person has made a difference.
Frank and Ruthie, with their dog Sadie, will be reunited at their resting place at Yellowstone Valley Memorial Park in Billings. Should you desire to honor Frank and Ruthie Kelley’s memory, please consider donations to RiverStone Health Hospice, 123 S. 27th St., Billings, MT 59101 or online at www.riverstonehealth.org/foundation. Click the “Give Now” link and select Hospice.
Michelotti-Sawyers has assisted with arrangements.