Henry M. Kelsey

March 24, 1942November 13, 2010

Henry (Hank) Merton Kelsey, of Old Saybrook and formerly of Bolton, died on Saturday, November 13, after a courageous five month battle with renal cell cancer. Born in Clinton on March 24, 1942 to Doris Griffin Kelsey and the late Merton E. Kelsey, Henry enjoyed an idyllic childhood in the small town atmosphere of Clinton. As a boy he explored tidal streams in a wooden dinghy, and traveled over the back roads on bicycle. He often reminisced about his "Beaver Cleaver" childhood. A graduate of The Morgan High School class of 1950, he completed active duty in the USMCR. He went on to receive advanced degrees in education from CCSU and ECSU. After college, he settled in Bolton with his wife Marion (Rusty) Zalenski (deceased) and began what turned out to be a 37 year career in classroom teaching at the late elementary level in the Hebron School System. An engaging and demanding teacher, Hank used real life experiences to make learning relevant and applicable. He was active in school reform, participating in the Instructional Support Team and Council at the Gilead Hill and Hebron Elementary Schools 16 for years. He became a spokesperson for teacher empowerment as he participated in the Connecticut Education Association in various capacities. Hank was active in local, regional and state political efforts. During his time in Bolton he served as Chairman of the Democratic Town Committee, Chairman of the Fire Commission, member of the Board of Zoning Appeals. He was a strong advocate for civic engagement and participation at the local level. He is survived by his adoring wife of 6 years, Lucia DelFavero Kelsey of Old Saybrook, his mother, Doris Kelsey of Clinton, mother-in-law, Ersula Zalenski of Manchester, brother Paul Kelsey of Alameda CA. He will also be missed by his step-children Stephan and Valerie Lukac along with their 3 daughters Chloe, Sarah and Angie of St. Bruno, Quebec and step-daughter, Carolina Lukac of Mexico City. In addition, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews join close friends and colleagues in mourning the loss of a man known for integrity, loyalty and love of life. Visitation will be held at the Swan Funeral Home, Route 1, Old Saybrook on Wednesday, November 17, from 2:00 - 6:00 PM. Included at 3:30 PM will be a memorial service celebrating his life and loves which will be led by Hank's minister of faith, Carleen Gerber of The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.Burial will be private. Remembrance gifts may be made in Hank's name to the Memorial Music Fund of The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, 2 Ferry Road, Old Lyme, CT 06371.


  • Visitation Wednesday, November 17, 2010
  • Funeral Service Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Henry M. Kelsey

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Reagan Szurek

March 13, 2011

I was saddened to hear of Mr Kelseys passing. I was a student of the 90-91 class at Gilead Hill. He was a great teacher and will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family

Caroline Bates

March 10, 2011

Mr Keley was my 6th grade teacher. I can't even begin to say how sad I am to hear that he has passed. He was by far the most important teacher I had all the years in school. Words can not describe how he impacted my life that year and how he helped me through difficult times. Every student that had him was truly blessed. He will be truly missed.

November 23, 2010

Mr Kelsey was my teacher in fifth grade, I will remember him always as great teacher who made you feel as important as any other person in the room. I can see him scolding myself and a class mate(we were trouble) with toungue in cheek trying to hide his laughter at what we were in trouble for . All children should be as lucky as we were to have such a person to prepare us for life. Mr Kelsey will be missed. " George Brault"( hebron ct)

Jill MacLachlan

November 21, 2010

I was so saddened to read of Mr. Kelsey's passing. I was in his 6th grade class of 74-75 at Gilead Hill School. I have only the fondest memories of a dynamic, warm, and caring man. I am now in my 26th year of teaching; and I believe that Mr. Kelsey lived by the motto "Kids don't care what you know until they know that you care." I ran into him a few years ago at Bolton Pharmacy and it was like no time had passed. He was every bit the gentleman with whom I had had the privilege of sharing a school year 30+ years before.

Jill (Tarbox) MacLachlan

Daria Plummer

November 19, 2010

I was saddened deeply to learn of Hank's passing. He was a role model for the teaching profession and such a passionate advocate for students, all staff members, and the profession itself. His political connections enabled him to accomplish much for our education and civil societies. His passion and dedication will be missed greatly.

Daria Plummer, CEA President 1996-2000

Hailey Machado

November 19, 2010

My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the loss of Hank Kelsey. I had the pleasure of having him as my 6th grade teacher and his impact has stuck with me to this day. One of the greatest people I've met and is one of the reasons why I am going to school to one day be a teacher. I only hope that I can touch as many students hearts as he did. He will be greatly missed.

Jenny Contois

November 17, 2010

I always enjoyed Hank when he came into Congressman Courtney's office while driving Joe. He was always pleasant and eager to talk about issues. We will miss him. My sincere condolences to his family.

Jenny Contois

Robert Barker

November 17, 2010

Our sincere condolences on Hank's passing. Hank was a good friend for many years and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with all his family and friends. He was always in good sprits and up to a challenge. We served on the Bolton Democratic Town Committee.

Robert & Linda Barker

November 17, 2010

Many wonderful childhood memories of the entire Kelsey family and neighbors. Our prayers are with all who were touched by their magic.
Peggy York Witham and family

November 17, 2010

Hank was a great guy. I knew him from our involvement in Democratic politics and later as we worked for Joe Courtney, our Congressman. Hank was smart, loyal and interesting. My most sincere condolences to his family. Dorothy Grady, Coventry DTC Chair.