John E. 'Bobo' Kelly, 67

John E. 'Bobo' Kelly, 67

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April 29, 1952-Feb. 12, 2020

Heaven gained a great man Wednesday, February 12. John E. "Bobo” Kelly was born on April 29, 1952, the sixth child of Leo V. "Skipper" and Helen Ruth (Bailey) Kelly. He grew up at the family home located at 523 Hickory. Bobo graduated from Anaconda Central High School in 1970 and attended Eastern Montana College (MSU Billings) until entering the Air Force in 1972.

While in the Air Force he attained the rank of Sergeant in the Security Police, and was honorably discharged in 1976 after serving at Whiteman AFB, Missouri; Andersen AFB, Guam and Aviano AB, Italy. He enjoyed learning to speak Italian while working with the Italian police and helping them polish their English.

After his discharge, he attended Montana State University in Bozeman and received his Bachelor of Science, Film and Television, in 1981. Always ready to have fun, Bobo organized his annual "Irish Fling" since there were no other Irish celebrations in Bozeman. On top of learning Italian in the service, he also studied German at MSU and would often joke he could mumble in several different languages.

He met his future wife, Karen, during his last year in college. They married June of 1982. Bobo opened a photography studio in Anaconda just after the closing of the smelter in 1981. While he took great photos, the business closed in late 1982. He went to work at the Montana State Prison in January of 1983 and became an Adult Probation and Parole officer in 1989. He continued in that position until his retirement in 2009. He began his second career as a counselor with CHP International at the Anaconda Job Corps Center in 2011, until his last retirement in October 2017.

Bobo loved people and the town of Anaconda. He liked to have fun and was always ready to play. He was a lifetime member of the Anaconda Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and was a member of the American Legion. His passions included golfing, poker, Notre Dame football and cooking. He often claimed the title of being the best soup maker in the extended Kelly Family! He loved to travel and try new foods; we rarely ate at a chain as a result. He enjoyed finding restaurants he had seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. He loved music and you would often find him table drumming to the beat.

Bobo and Karen have two children, Elizabeth and Conor. He loved being a dad and was very involved in all his kids' activities. He was a loving father and when not waking them up in German he always sent them off for the day with "Study hard and learn lots!" He was very proud of his family and celebrated being a Kelly and his Irish heritage. Family was very important to him and he was a key figure in keeping the annual Kelly Clan family reunion going for the last 40 years.

Bobo was preceded in death by his parents; infant brother, Baby Mike; brother, Skip Kelly; sister, and brother-in-law Judy and Richard Beck; sister and brother-in-law, Kay and Ben Messina; father-in-law, Buster Ness.

Bobo is survived by his wife, Karen; children, Elizabeth (Corey Beane) and Conor (Alli) Kelly and the newest addition to the Clan, his grandson, Chamber John Kelly. He is also survived by sisters, Sharon (Henry) Lang and Mary Pat Tuss (Gene Puccinelli); brother, Vince (Natalie) Kelly; mother-in-law, Grace Ness; sisters-in-law, KayLynn Kelly and Amy (Matt) Foster; brother-in-law, Dana Ness; and a constantly growing number of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Memorials are suggested to the St. Peter's Restoration Fund, 217 W. Pennsylvania, Anaconda, MT 59711, Ronald McDonald House of Missoula, 3003 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, MT 59804 or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held at the Holy Family Catholic Church on Monday, February 17, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. There will be one hour of visitation prior to the service at the Church.

Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral & Cremation Service is entrusted with Bobo’s funeral arrangements. You may pay your condolences at

To plant a tree in memory of John Kelly as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

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