Obituary: Delores June Kelley
Dr. Delores June “Dee” Kelley (née Greco), late of Claremont, passed away suddenly of a heart attack on October 1, 2023 at home.”
Delores was born in Trenton, N.J. to Pasquale and Anna Greco, and grew up in a large Italian family with seven brothers and sisters. It was in New Jersey that she met her future husband, Robert “Bob” Kelley, a native Southern Californian who was a divinity student at Princeton Theological Seminary. They married in 1949 and spent the next few years in Elkins Park, Penn., where Bob had his first call to the ministry. In 1955, they ventured west to Southern California. After brief stops in Glendale and Pomona, the couple settled in Claremont in 1958, where they raised their two daughters, Criss and Robbin and where Delores lived for the rest of her life.
Delores had an impressive educational background, having earned her bachelor’s degree from Arcadia University in Pennsylvania, and a master’s in Library Science from Cal State Los Angeles. She studied labor law at the University of London and received her Ph.D. in labor relations from Claremont Graduate University.
She dedicated her professional life to the Glendora Unified School District, where she began her teaching career in 1958 as a P.E. teacher, an English teacher, and a three-period librarian. In 1970, she became the high school’s full-time librarian and in 1983 she became the district’s Curriculum Specialist and District Librarian. During her tenure, she was elected to the presidency of the Southern Section Library Association. She founded the National Honor Society at Glendora High School and sponsored the Senior Awards breakfast for 21 years. She retired in 2007.
Delores served as the executive director of the Glendora Teachers’ Association for 26 years, and negotiated the first bargaining-unit contract between teachers and the Glendora Unified School District in 1977. She was known as a tough but fair negotiator on behalf of the union employees she represented, and was a mentor to many teachers, staff and young people throughout her career and beyond. Delores was also one of the founders, in 1987, of the Claremont Dispute Resolution Center, a mediation and conciliation center which serviced Claremont and the surrounding community for many years.
Dee was a devout Presbyterian and a member of Claremont Presbyterian Church for more than 50 years. She held many positions at the church, serving as its treasurer for 12 years and as an elder for several terms. At the time of her passing, she was a member of the church’s Refugee Concerns Team, assisting Syrian refugees new to the Inland Valley area, and served on the board of the Claremont Presbyterian Children’s Center, a childcare and educational institution of which she was immensely proud. Delores also served on the Administration and Finance Committee of the San Gabriel Presbytery.
Dee loved her family – the one she was born into, the one she raised, and the one she chose. She loved her home of 57 years and opened it up to friends and family. She and Bob were known for the many bridge groups and family celebrations they hosted in their home, especially their annual Boxing Day and Fourth of July parties. Dee continued these traditions after Bob’s death and established new traditions with her weekly mahjong and card group and the BFF Book Club. A passionate reader, Dee was a lover of British mysteries, notably Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. Her favorite saying was, “You are never alone if you have a book in your hand.” Citing the importance of being informed, she read both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, in their entirety, daily until her death. In addition to her many professional and personal accomplishments, Dee will be remembered most for her kindness and pragmatic wisdom. She always dispensed sound advice with a loving touch to the many who sought her counsel.
Delores is survived by her daughters, Criss Kelley Moreno and Robbin Kelley; sister, Connie Maira; sister-in-law, Judy Kelley; grandsons Dennis and Shawn Sudar; great-grandchildren Alex, Danielle and Willow Sudar, numerous beloved nieces and nephews; and her constant companion her dog Evie. Delores was preceded in death by her husband, Rev. Dr. Robert Kelley in 1998 and six of her brothers and sisters. A memorial service for Delores will be held on Saturday, October 28, 2023 at 1 p.m. at Claremont Presbyterian Church (1111 N. Mountain Avenue, Claremont). In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Claremont Presbyterian Church in her memory.