James Richard Kelch

September 8, 1956November 17, 2018
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James Richard Kelch age 62, passed away at 10:00 AM on Saturday, November 17, 2018, at State of the Heart Hospice Care Center in Greenville. Jim was born in Hamilton County, Ohio, on September 8, 1956. He was the son of the late Richard J. Kelch and Marjorie Miller Kelch. Jim was a graduate of Versailles High School. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education in 1979 from the Defiance College and a master’s Degree in educational leadership from Wright State University in 1990. A teacher in Preble County, Mr. Kelch taught most of those years in 8th grade American History which he held a minor Degree. During his teaching career he planned and execute over 15 trips for his students to our nation’s Capital and Williamsburg, Virginia. Mr. Kelch was honored with numerous listings in “Who’s Who of American Classroom Teacher”. He received the outstanding teacher of the year in 1984. Jim served on numerous committees and Boards during his life. A member of the Darke County Board of Tourism for two terms. Jim served as a former member of the Darke County Civic Theatre as its President for several years while directing several Productions. Jim also found a spot telling the tales of old Darke County through DCCA’s Ghost Walks. But Jim felt most comfortable at home, in Versailles and performing, Directing, and serving as a Board Member for Towne & Country Players. Jim was fortunate to have been cast in their production of the “Fantastics” and traveled with the cast to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. Jim has also served on The Friends of Darke County Parks, often dressing as characters of our past in the living history activities in the log house; also serving on the Versailles Alumni Board and was also a founding member of the Versailles Area Historical Society and volunteered at the Museum. His last endeavor was to help plan the Versailles Bicentennial celebration. Jim, as a descendent of the St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Congregation at Webster, proudly served as a Trustee to assure her preservation of the historic log church for new generations. Jim was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church of Versailles. There he served on numerous committees including Council and was Minister of Music, serving as Choir Director for many years. Jim married the love of his life, the former Karen Kirchenbauer of Van Wert County on August 18, 1979 and who survives. Other survivors include their two children and their spouses, Kathryn Elizabeth Kelch Vulgamore (Byron) of Carmel, Indiana and Nicholas A. Kelch, (Amber Francis ) of Greenville. Also surviving are four Grandchildren, Victoria Benedetto, of Muncie, Indiana, Hannah and Eli Vulgamore of Carmel, Indiana, and Isabella Kelch of Greenville, Ohio. Sister and brother-in-law Laurie and David Bladen, and two nieces and a nephew. Jim was proceeded in death by his parents, sister, Marilyn Louise Kelch, Grandparents and a host of Aunts and Uncles. The family will receive friends on Saturday, December 1, 2018, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Trinity Lutheran Church in Versailles with a Service of Remembrance to follow at 12:00 PM with Pastor Mick Althouser officiating. Interment will be at Greenlawn Cemetery on the family plot at the convenience of the family. Memorial contributions may be made to the Versailles Area Museum, St. Peter’s Preservation, State of the Heart Care or Trinity of Versailles. Arrangements are under the direction of Bailey Zechar Funeral Home in Versailles.


  • Visitation Saturday, December 1, 2018
  • Celebration of Life Saturday, December 1, 2018

James Richard Kelch

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Phyllis Mattheis

January 12, 2019

To Jim's family,
I cut out the little notice from the Early Bird, but couldn't believe it would be the Jim Kelch that I met at St. Peter's....until tonight when I brought up his obit. Wonderful photo of Jim! The homecoming will never be the same without him.
Sincere condolences to all,
Phyllis ...a descendant of the Schmitt Family of Webster.
Cambridge City, IN

Robyn Moreland

November 30, 2018

Though we saw Jim but once a year at St Peter's, he always had a warm smile and friendly greetings for mom and I. I will always remember him sharing the history of St Peter's with the congregation with such love and enthusiasm. He will be dearly missed. RIP Jim!

Douglas Bey

November 28, 2018

Jim was my best friend growing up back in my home town of Versailles Ohio. I have many great times and wonderful memories to last a life time. You will be missed take care my friend rest in peace. I wish Jim's family the peace only God can give.

Jane & Randy Tester

November 23, 2018

When we think of Jim, we can’t help but smile! He had such a zest for life, friends, family, and community. We will miss him.
Peace to you, Karen.

Mary Marvel

November 21, 2018

Jim was such a kind and caring man. He and Karen have been loyal, loving, and ultra supportive friends to my sister who has faced many trials and tribulations during her life. For that, we are both eternally grateful. It is no surprise to me to read about what a fantastic teacher he was. He made such a difference in the lives of so many. He will be greatly missed by my sister and I and by all who knew and loved him. ❤️

Lisa (Crabtree) Anderson

November 19, 2018

I appreciate Mr. Kelchs love for teaching and for history. I loved his class and one of my fondest memories circa ~1992 was him telling our class about THE laptop computer. He said there are early signs that it could be the size of our textbook or smaller. 😳 I literally remember sitting there jaw dropped like “NO WAY.” 🙂 To the family, I’m so sorry for your loss.

Deb Shiverdecker

November 19, 2018

We will miss his jolly self at the Darke County Park District. He always made you smile. And he taught me a little history every time I worked with him.

Kelly Smith- Kindrick

November 19, 2018

I was very saddened to hear about Mr. Kelch's passing. He was one of my favorite teachers. I learned a lot from him and have never forgotten the lectures (The Royal Flush) he gave. I loved history from then on out. He was one of the best and really made learning fun and interesting. I'll never forget.
My heart goes out to his family. I had the privilege of having Mrs. Kelch also they were both great teachers and made you strive to do your best.
Thank you both.

Kathy Brewer

November 19, 2018

I am so sad for the passing of my friend Jim. He was one of the kindest, innovative, and enthusiastic teacher/director/ musicians I have had the pleasure of knowing. His energy was boundless!
I think one of his most endearing qualities was his sincerity and genuineness!
Karen- my heart aches for you and Kate and Alex and your family. My life is much richer for having known Jim as my friend, a husband and father. May God give you peace and comfort during this difficult time.
With much love from the Brewer family.

Darla Lane

November 19, 2018

Mr.Kelch you were definitely the most thoughtful caring respectful teacher I had. I am privileged to been able to be taught by you.
My deepest sympathys go out to Mrs.Kelch and there beautiful children during this time of heartache.