John J. Kelly

January 9, 1949April 13, 2018
Play Tribute Movie

John J. Kelly (Sean) passed away April 13, 2018 in Danbury, CT. John was born in Tarrytown, NY on January 9, 1949, son of Bernard and Eileen (Small) Kelly.

John attended Stepinac High School, Pace University, Iona College and Quinnipiac University School of Law.

John worked at American Can Company as Director of International Taxes, Coopers and Lybrand and was CFO of KW Controls. Most recently he had a private practice specializing in business law. John was also on the board of directors of Echelon Materials.

John was a life member of Rescue Hose Company #1, Sleepy Hollow, NY. He served as president, vice president and treasurer of Bethel Softball Assoc. He held several positions for the Town of Bethel including town treasurer, chairman of the Ethics committee, and zoning board of appeals. He was admitted as an attorney and Councelor of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007.

John leaves behind his wife of 43 years, Essie, daughters Keri Reilly of Newtown CT and Chrystie Kelly of Brooklyn, NY. He also leaves behind his grandsons Kyle Reilly and Sean Reilly and several nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends during a memorial visitation to take place at the Green Funeral Home, 57 Main St., Danbury, on Friday, April 20, 2018 from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to The Abbey of Regina Laudis, 273 Flanders Rd., Bethlehem, CT or the charity of your choosing.


  • John leaves behind his wife of 43 years, Essie, daughters Keri Reilly of Newtown CT and Chrystie Kelly of Brooklyn, NY. He also leaves behind his grandsons Kyle Reilly and Sean Reilly and several nieces and nephews.


  • Memorial Visitation Friday, April 20, 2018

John J. Kelly

have a memory or condolence to add?

Bill Hagan

April 23, 2018

John was a dear friend. We were in regular contact and swapped war stories about the challenges of the law as a sole practitioner. After I became ill and had to close my office, he reached out to me more often, not less, and that will always mean a great deal to me.

I remember so many entertaining conversations where he would rub the top of his head while explaining how a closing he was working on was driving him crazy. But then he would stop, and ask “[b]ut how are you?” He almost seemed apologetic for talking about what he had going on, and made it clear that you were more important to him than his own problems. That was one of John’s great gifts. He will be missed. John, you will always be in our thoughts and prayers.

Bob Muller

April 20, 2018

There are at least three things to be said about John:
First, he loved his family. Like all my friends, he was tough when he needed to be, but inside a big teddy bear, especially about Essie.
Second, he was the smartest guy I have ever known. Without exception. It took me a while to learn he wasn't "falling asleep" when he shut his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. No. He'd already had the solution and was just waiting for the rest of us to catch up.
Third, I suspect he told each of us that he wasn't sure where he'd "be going, but he'd be too busy shaking hands to notice the heat."
Well, John, I suspect you are somewhat surprised - - most of us who you'd be shaking hands with are still here and I know the climate where you are now is far more idyll and temperate.
I'll miss you, my friend.

John Perez

April 18, 2018

Ironically, I had so many times wanted to take Sean to lunch after having met him at the Verdi Construction Christmas party this past December. We sat at the same table with our wives, my Stephanie having just recently joining Verdi in October. From just the few hours we spoke during that festive ocassion, I came to realize how special this man truly was. He was a marvelous story teller and extremely fluent in Spanish which, to my delight, added to the stories he shared with me. His brillance so apparent. The second and last time I saw Sean again was the day before he passed. He was so grateful to me for taking time to come visit with him. I left telling him to get better soon so I can buy him lunch and we could continue our conversation from last December. Unfortunately for me, I'll be the poorer for not getting to know this man better. To take in his wisdom and insight. God bless you Sean. Rest in peace. Our prayers and thoughts remain with Essie, her daughter's and extended family.

Jessica Cavalier

April 18, 2018

Keri and family,
So sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. We are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need anything at all.
Al, Jess & Dylan

Wayne Williams

April 17, 2018

I met John many years ago when he was brought in to reorganize our company. Our company had lost its way, and the normally very honorable and generous owner had made a series of questionable business decisions that resulted in long period of weekly downsizing cuts and constant crisis. The owner was having a personal crisis and put the control of the company in the hands of his incompetent son-in-law.

Sean, as we called John, was initially supportive of the bungling management team that had brought him in to save the company. But Sean quickly saw where the problem laid. We employees had actually began holding our own meetings in a local park, desperate to find some way to save our jobs and the company. Sean showed up at one of these meetings , and threw his support in with the employees and their Employee Stock Ownership Plan. With his guidance and help, we wrested control from the incompetent son-in-law, and ended the constant firings. Sean found creative funding, reformed the management team and took leadership. He successfully negotiated the sale of the company to German company for which we had been the sole US rep and preserved all of our jobs in the process.

The integrity that Sean demonstrated - siding with the employees when he had been hired by the incompetent management team, was awe inspiring. To this day I recount the story to friends and family of the great man I had the pleasure to work with and consider to be the man I have admired the most in my life.

Sean was a brilliant man, a hard worker, an incredible wit, and an honest and true friend. My life, and those of my co-workers and friends, are so much better for having known Sean. We will miss him terribly.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Sean's Wife Essie, and his daughters and family, at this time of great loss.

What a great man he was. God Bless Sean, and all of you. I am sure Sean is in heaven, and pray that he knows how much he meant to so many people.

Joe DeMilia

April 17, 2018

I will always remember you as my great friend, Moose. From the days in the '60s, hanging out on Beekman or Barnhardt, at Roys, the old road, with Wal and "Ema", and of course, at the fire house. Who would have guessed that two buddies from the old neighborhood would grow to be professionals with families and who, some 50 years later, would be sharing ideas on representing clients in tax audits. Your humor, wit, advice, and friendship will never be forgotten.

With much love from your old buddy,


Thomas Noonan

April 16, 2018

On my first day of law school, I sat down next to this very large, imposing looking character. He would become one of my best friends during our long slog together over the next few years. Now, 31 years later, I've lost my friend too soon. I shall miss John, his stories, his love of life and his wit. My condolences to Essie and your two girls - he never spoke of you three without a smile on his face.