Kelly, Joseph

Joseph Kelly, 81, of Wilmington passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, April 27, 2023.

Joe was born in Hockessin, DE, the son of the late Elsie (Crossan) and Joseph Kelly. He graduated at the top of his class from Salesianum School where he served as President of the Student Body. Joe went on to attend Villanova University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1963, and then entered Villanova Law School. While in law school, Joe was the Law Review President of the Inter-Club Council. He went on to serve in the Navy after graduating from law school, and Lieutenant Kelly graduated cum laude from JAG School in 1967.

Professionally, he held positions including assistant general counsel for ICI, Zeneca, and assistant general counsel and head of the environmental law group for AstraZeneca. He was also Vice President and General Counsel of Stauffer Management Company. He was appointed to the Board of Directors for Montrose Chemical Corporation in 1993 and was named President on May 30, 2002, a position he held until his death.

As a volunteer, Joe has served as President of the Pike Creek Civic League and Save Our County. He gave countless hours of volunteer legal time to three cases, two of which he initiated, resulting in three 5-0 decisions in favor of the residents of New Castle County before the State Supreme Court. Joe received the Distinguished Service Award from the New Castle County Civic League for his work on the Barley Mill case. He served as an advisor to Joe Biden’s 1972 Senatorial campaign and as a campaign manager for several other state and local candidates. Joe was also an active member of the Lewes Beach Civic Association and was appointed to the Lewes Executive Committee on Resiliency.

Joe’s love for sport was fed by his fiercely competitive nature. Joe was an avid tennis player and his dedication to the sport enabled him to win his club championship and gave him the opportunity to compete at USTA Nationals on several occasions. He formed many long-lasting friendships with his tennis teammates both in Wilmington and his home in Naples, Florida. He passed his love of sports onto his children and grandchildren and loved watching them compete in their sporting events. He also remained a devoted fan to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Eagles, Villanova basketball and of course the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Joe was married to his wife, Rosemary, for over 55 years. She was the love of his life and a perfect complement to him. Together they built a beautiful life and raised five children. Family was of paramount importance to Joe. He was the epitome of a selfless father and loving husband, dedicating his life to being there for his family in every possible way and always offering them sound, pragmatic advice.

As we mourn the loss of Joe, we also celebrate the extraordinary life he led and the indelible impact he made on those around him. He was a shining example of the American dream. He seized every opportunity given to him and achieved incredible success both personally and professionally through hard work and unwavering dedication. Joe created a legacy of love and success that will be remembered for generations to come.

Joe will be dearly missed by his loving wife, Rosemary (Hennessey) Kelly, his five children, their spouses and 13 grandchildren, including Joseph Colin Jr. and Andrea Kelly (Claire and Joseph), Sean and Susan Kelly (Sean, Sarah and Brady), Kristen and Matthew Joyce (Ellen, Colin, and Delaney), Patrick Kelly and Alex Croswell-Kelly (Kaitlin, Ava, and Colin), and Kayte Kelly and John Phelan (Eva and Jack), and his sister Eileen (Kelly) Ford. Joe was predeceased in death by his parents, Joseph and Elsie, and his sister, Joan (Kelly) Griffith.

Relatives and friends are invited to a visitation on Sunday, May 21 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at the McCrery and Harra Funeral Homes, 3924 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803 (Additional parking will be available at the Brandywine YMCA, rear parking area, with a connecting path to the funeral home). A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church on Monday, May 22 at 10:30AM.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Salesianum School, 1801 N. Broom St., Wilmington, DE 19802, the Ministry of Caring, 115 E. 14th Street, Wilmington, DE 19801, or Ursuline Academy, 1106 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, DE 19806. To send condolences visit:

Click the link below to be taken to Joseph Kelly’s memorial page to view a recording of his services.

Joseph Kelly Obituary (2023) - Wilmington, DE (

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by 2fish