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In lieu of flowers a Tribute Gift may be made to Howard University at https://giving.howard.edu/givenow in memory of Robert B Kelly Sr. Click on Designation, select Other and enter College of Dentistry.


Robert Burns Kelly Sr.

18 April, 192711 January, 2022
Obituary of Robert Burns Kelly Sr.
Robert Burns Kelly, Sr. was born on April 18, 1927, in Springfield, Ohio, to Robert Rinaldo Kelly and Bernice Burns Kelly. His parents relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1930 for employment. Robert remained with his grandmother, Laura Clark, in Springfield until 1939 after which he joined his parents in Washington, D.C. He grew up in a Christian home and received Christ as his savior at a young age. Robert was affectionately known as "Bobby" by family and dear friends. He attended Mott Elementary, Shaw Junior High, and Armstrong Technical High School. While attending Armstrong Robert participated in the Military Unit Cadet Training Program. He graduated from high school in 1946. After graduation, Robert faced racial discrimination by the U.S. Military. He attempted to register for Selective Service and was twice denied, despite his qualifications. Recognizing the injustice, Robert’s father engaged attorney Charles Houston, also known as “The Man Who Killed Jim Crow”, to file a lawsuit against the War Department and Selective Service on behalf of Robert and all African Americans. Attorney Houston challenged the discriminatory enlistment practice which denied African Americans access to G.I. Bill benefits such as college tuition available to returning World War II veterans. The case ultimately resolved when the ban on African American enlistment was reversed. In October 1946 Robert enlisted in the U.S. Army without further resistance. He served in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska with the 803rd Salvage Company as a salvage technician. After the tour in the Aleutian Islands concluded he was stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia where he trained and served as a surveyor with the 999th Field Artillery. While in route to Fort Benning, Georgia, Robert stopped in Washington, D.C. to spend Christmas at home with his family. During his visit home he met the love of his life, Delores Cecilia Lee. They corresponded by letter for the next several months until the completion of his military service in 1948. He then returned home and they began dating. Robert was an earnest young man who readily accepted responsibility. After his service in the Army, he was employed by the Office of the Quartermaster General. In 1950 Robert began attending Howard University as an art major. While there he joined the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity. Robert and Delores were joined in marriage on February 11, 1950. To this union was born their only son Robert Burns Kelly, Jr. In 1953 Robert went to work for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, which later became the National Ocean Atmospheric Administration. He worked for several years as a Cartographic Draftsman, and earned several successive promotions. He was involved in many aerial photogrammetric survey projects mapping the coast lines of the United States and its possessions. Some of his most memorable projects included mapping Liberia, many Caribbean islands, coastlines of Alaska, remapping places with coastline erosion, and mapping Dulles Airport. After 35 years of faithful service Robert retired in 1984 as a Senior Photogrammetric Cartographer in the Photogrammetry Branch, Nautical Charting Division of the Charting and Geodetic Services of NOAA. He was praised for his diligence, competence, and significant accomplishments which greatly contributed to the goals of NOAA. Robert shared with us “It’s good when you can have a job and don’t mind going to work; I enjoyed every day of it.” Robert and Delores enjoyed 60 wonderful years of marriage until her passing in 2010. They enjoyed hosting their many friends and family members at cookouts and meals lovingly prepared at their home. Robert and Delores were both outstanding cooks. They also enjoyed listening to jazz music and traveling the world. One of his favorite trips was a cruise to Alaska, returning to the beautiful land where he had served during the war. He was an avid Washington Redskins fan and enjoyed many years of football season tickets with friends. Sunday mornings were filled with the sound of gospel music and service at Howard University’s Rankin Chapel playing on WHUR Radio. Robert was kind, generous, and lived his life with integrity and precision. He knew exactly how he wanted things to be and took the necessary steps to ensure that everything was done just right. He was an independent man who knew there was nothing he could not do. He did his own shopping, always dressed to look his best, prepared meals that tasted better than any restaurant around, cut his own lawn and maintained the landscape around his home, and enjoyed Friday night jazz at Westminster Presbyterian Church well into his early nineties. Robert transitioned peacefully on January 11, 2022. He was predeceased by his love Delores, his parents, and his younger brother, Kenneth, He leaves to mourn, treasure his memory and continue his legacy his devoted son Robert, Jr. and daughter-in-law Rozlyn, grandchildren, Rhavie’, Robert, III and Ryan, sister-in-law Dianne, nephews Keith and Kevin, niece Jasmine Kelly, goddaughter Valerie Hawkins, adopted niece and nephew Michael and Vicky Jones, special friends Renotta Young, Vickie Waters, Lloyd Harrod and Iris Fagans, and many dear relatives and friends. Robert, Bobby, Dad, Papa. He lived a good life. At his 90th birthday celebration he told us “I wouldn’t do anything different. The key to life is to be yourself and things will work out good for you.” The road to glory will be rocky, but fulfilling. A visitation for Robert will be held Friday, February 11, 2022 at 9:30 AM at Fort Lincoln Funeral Home, 3401 Bladensburg Rd, Brentwood, Maryland 20722. A celebration of life will occur Friday, February 11, 2022 at 10:30 AM, 3401 Bladensburg Rd, Brentwood, Maryland 20722. A committal service will occur Friday, February 11, 2022 at 2:30 PM at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, 4001 Suitland Road, Suitland, Maryland 20746. In lieu of flowers a Tribute Gift in memory of Robert B Kelly Sr. may be made to Howard University at https://giving.howard.edu/givenow. Click on Designation, select Other and enter College of Dentistry. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.fort-lincoln.com for the Kelly family.

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Friday, 11 February, 2022

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Friday, 11 February, 2022

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