Boca Raton World War II veteran Verne Kelley led the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Delray Beach last month, which honors veterans and first responders.
The parade was the 49th annual event and Kelley said the parade organizer John Fischer asked him to serve as Grand Marshall. He said his daughter told Fischer that he was a veteran and enjoys the parade every year.
This was his first time participating in the parade, but said he attends every year with his family.
“I was so proud to share this day with my wife, two of my daughters, my son in law and my grandchildren,” he said. “I really enjoyed meeting the other World War II Veterans. I was overwhelmed to see the crowds of people cheering us on. I was so proud to share in an experience that benefits such a good cause: First responders.”
Kelley grew up in Wichita, Kansas and was drafted into World War II right out of high school. He served in the Army Air Corp from 1943 until the end of the war in 1945, when he was discharged at the rank of Corporal.
He was sent to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska where his best assignment was air and sea rescue. He was a bystander to a spectacular event, viewing from the air the vast North Pacific fleet sailing toward Japan to accept their surrender. Another time, he saw President Roosevelt when he was returning from a meeting with Churchill and other Allied leaders. He gave Roosevelt his best salute and the President saluted back.
He went to college on the GI Bill and earned a B.A. degree from the University of Colorado and an MSW from the University of Denver. He later earned a PhD from the University of Iowa. He is the father of five and the grandfather of five and he and his wife Patricia Kelley have been married for 56 years. He will turn 94 in May.
He and Patricia reside in Boca Raton. His hobbies of photography and travel have taken him around the world twice. He has written three short novels published by Amazon and currently is working on another story.
He loves Delray Beach and he and Patricia serve on the Guild of the Arts Garage and they enjoy dining on the Avenue.