Br F L Kelly


Larry is very sadly missed by all here, both staff and community.  In spite of his serious health problem he was always cheerfully obliging.  Many of the men here have no idea how to use a computer but Larry was always happy to send an e-mail if asked.  The day Larry agreed to go to hospital I knew things were very serious.  I never saw him again till he was laid out for burial.  He was always a good friend.  He never complained, except, maybe to say “Not too good today” or “Not too bad today.”  May he rest in peace.
—Br Michael Walsh

Br. Kelly taught math and physics in such a unique way, and with so much passion, that even today, after more than 30 years, the principles he taught are crystal clear in my head. His down to earth illustrations and practical examples made science and math come alive.

Br. Kelly loved his job and it showed in his work and his attitude. He wanted each one of us to do well and he pursued that goal relentlessly. Remember how he wanted us to write well and walked around to each desk to correct our handwriting; he looked after the smallest detail.

Br. Kelly will always be rembered for the work that he did because he has made an invaluable contribution to our lives by igniting, in so many of us, a love for physics and math. For years I have given examples of Brother Kelly's teaching style to so many of my friends and to my children and I am sure many other abuites must have done the same.

Br. Kelly will always be fondly remembered by everyone whose life he has touched and will live on in the stories that we tell our children and grand children.

May his soul rest in peace.
— Dinesh Chaudhari (1976)

I remember Br Kelly sternly reprimanding us over trying to collect a snake in a jar one sunny afternoon.  He followed it up with a brief lesson on how we'd spot poisonous snakes and which ones we held the antidote for at the school.  The one we had to "let go" was apparently the one of the most deadly - for which there was no cure within a day's train ride! I will always remember him as this scientist/brother ever interesting and always commanding respect.
My condolences to the family.
—Sigmund DeSouza (1975)

I am a Christian Brother. Br. Kelly taught me in Abu. The New Year greetings below were sent by our dear Br. Larry on 31st December 2006.  Unfortunately I sat down to check my mail only today, after his passing away. I am grief-stricken.
—Br. James Joseph

I wish you Health...
So you may enjoy each day in comfort.

I wish you the Love of friends and family...
And Peace within your heart.

I wish you the Beauty of nature...
That you may enjoy the work of God.

I wish you Wisdom to choose priorities...
For those things that really matter in life.

I wish you Generosity so you may share...
All good things that come to you.

I wish you Happiness and Joy...
And Blessings for the New Year.

I wish you the best of everything...
That you so well deserve

blessings larry k

It was with great sadness I read the news about Br Kelly. R I P. What can one say of such a multiple personality? We have all been blessed with many memories of this friend, teacher, guide, mentor ... the list is endless.

For me he taught me survival in Abu. I did not take to Abu kindly after Shillong. He reminded me one day that we had met some years back at the Welsh Mission Hosp. I was a patient (just delivered Arjun!). He had come to donate blood. Are you supposed to be up? Fine greeting! Long association.

The electricity, water, bees, films, but most of all the confidence he gave to each one to help them grow & mature into better persons. Once we had to go to almost Abu Road to find Cecelpinea flowers for exam next day. The day the bridge overflowed & finding the boy alive after we were all nearly drowned!

He was never a strong person as his health gave many problems & diet was of the simplest, some rice & few boiled veg.

Dear friend may God grant you eternal peace from all of us who but for your mentoring may not have moved on so far in our lives.

Never forgot & ever loved from Trivedis.
—Dr Geeta Mehta/Trivedi

Br Kelly was an institution. He made science come alive for us. With very little laboratory equipment and a lot of ingenuity, we learnt how to conduct effective experiments. He taught us how to come up with creative and innovative solutions. It was a privilege to be taught by him. May his soul rest in peace.
—Shanker Trivedi (1971)

Today is one of the saddest days in my life. Br Kelly and myself were synonymous. I can still recall not the studies or the classes but every single thing that happed thereafter. He intrigued me. He was my mentor. He was the one who taught us to think out of the box. The aero models, the regattas, the walks, the picnics, the sausages and baked fish, the crazy chem. lab.

Today I have lost my mentor, my guide, oldest dearest friend. The thoughts and emotions that rush through my mind are numerous, it would take me years to compile.

I am  truly indebted to Bro Kelly. He will live on in my ever fresh memory of him. Thank you, Sir. We will always miss you.
—Zarryl Lobo (1973)

Dear Tess, Hilda, Kate and Clem

For me personally, how can I even attempt to pen down what Larry meant to me. I entered his sphere of activity, when I joined St. Mary’s, Mt. Abu at the age of 11 and by the next year I would say that I fell under his influence, an influence under which I joyfully and purposefully, remain till date. That is 30 plus years, this man, your brother, has been pivotal to how I see and live my life.

As I re-live in my mind and heart, those boyhood days, the sheer joy, excitement, fun, adventure, fascination, knowledge ‘Kelly’ brought to them I shed tears of joy and gratitude. Gratitude that powers beyond us willed this. There was something about this man that drew the crowds to him, very much like the Christ of the gospel. Simply drew us, and drew some of us so closely that we rejoiced in our nick name “Kelly’s Heroes,” after a movie of that time. So much of my love and knowledge of the outdoors, of nature and the environment, my love for tools and handiwork, of swimming and open water, infact of life, came from those early years of interaction with him.
I could go on and fill pages with stories and anecdotes concerning him, but there will be a time for that. At this moment, all I would like to say to each of you, is Thank you. Thank you for the role you as a family played in the making of this man, Thank you for the role you played especially over these last years of his, in caring for him back home in Ireland. But the biggest thank you for the generosity of giving us young Indians, the majority share of the prime of his extraordinary life. I, one of many I am sure, am aware of his legacy that I carry, as it approaches its fullness of time.

This is a sad time, and I am sure you will miss him like I will. But in a way I rejoice, that his spirit is once again been set free from a body that was slowly limiting it. I have no doubt, infact I can just see him, running around in the Garden of Eden amongst the birds and the bees, pointing out with that particular infectious child-like enthusiasm and awe, each new discovery he makes. In the words of the song of the same name, this man could paint with all the Colours of the Wind.
‘I have come that you might have Life, and have it in its Fullness’. If anyone understood the core of that message it was Larry.

Ní bheidh a leithéid arís Ann.
—Noel de Sa (1979)

A genius is gone. I only remember that we used to call him Br Ion—the concepts of  chemistry
he taught us were what  people are learning today—that too in the new syllabus!

I remember he used to collect poison ..of scorpions... once he had a couple of scorpions in his hand crawling around and he asked us to get a bottle of ammonia from the lab as the fellow had stung him. May his gentle soul rest in peace
—Nalin Thaker (1969)

The most sincere sympathies of the Brothers, especially from those in India to you Hilda, Tess, Kate and Clem, and the other members of your families, as you struggle to come to terms with the death of Frankie. Be assured that our prayers are with you at this difficult time that you obtain the necessary strength and courage to accept his passing. Be assured that you are accompanied in that struggle by scores of Brothers who too feel the loss of a most loveable man but are eternally grateful for having been privileged to meet him. You also have the undying gratitude of the Brothers in India for the gift of Frankie to the Congregation, to which he brought his varied gifts, which he shared unselfishly with countless numbers of people during his 50 years in India. It is no wonder that a word like ‘devastated’, occurs so often in messages sent by men who knew him as teacher or Brother or both. However, Gerard Alvarez put it very well when he wrote: “Larry will never die….he will live on in the hearts and memories of his Brothers and students through the stories that will evoke joy and amazement, laughter and delight in the telling. Larry was a beautifully unique human being and C.B.”

The words of Jesus about Nathaniel, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no guile in him. (John 1:47), is apt about Frankie. An open kind of man; what you saw was what you got; no masks or hidden agendas, no guile, no pretence. He was a man who loved a laugh and a bit of fun. I have yet to meet anyone who claimed to have been hurt by him in any way. He had no enemies for he offended none. Neither did he take offence. Any perceived slight he would brush away with a dismissive chuckle. It was of no consequence to him.

His life was marked by great fidelity; fidelity to his family with whom he communicated regularly, using up every available square inch of space, as was his wont; to his Irish roots; to his vocation; to his prayer life; to those in his care; to his God, about whom he discovered more-and-more as the author of all the marvels of nature that he encountered or discovered during his life-long quest. When they came face-to-face on Tuesday last he would have instantly recognised the Source of all the wonders and marvels of life that he had discovered in life.

He had a vivid imagination and was gifted with the ability to spark the imagination in those he encountered be they pupils, brothers or just acquaintances. The briefest of encounters with him was enough to have people away know they had met someone special and having their minds opened to new possibilities and horizons.

 His was a restless soul, always on the lookout for the new, alive to the world around him, be it crabs, eels, pinkeens, shell-fish in the Dodder or the sea-shore in Sandymount during his childhood; or snakes, a preying mantis, scorpions, the humble sparrows and the more exotic animals found in India, he was totally fascinated by the many forms of life that came his way. He learned about them from nature and books and was ever-ready to share his findings with others.

His welcome was always warm and hearty and he maintained this happy disposition even throughout his latter years of confinement to his room. He was more concerned about the health and welfare of the visitor than about his own. Though it was painful to see him so incapacitated in recent years, one always came away after a visit to him with a feeling of well-being and gratitude. He would not dwell on his own illness – ‘alright’ or ‘managing’ was about as much as you would get about his state of health. But even when it became a struggle to make his way across to the computer room he continued to search for more of the wonders of life which he would invite you to share with the remark, ‘Look at that!’

He spent himself helping others always in a very unobtrusive way. When he supposedly retired to Bow Bazar in Kolkata, he devoted his time to helping young women, who previously had not had a chance of an education, to qualify through the Open School system. They fondly and gratefully remember him for all he did for them.
Like most Irish men he was slow to demonstrate emotion. One young Brother recalls his own life-crisis in Mt. Abu and how Larry stood by him in word and deed…..demonstrating an amazing depth and sense of compassion which will never be forgotten but is still treasured.

A few random comments that came my way:
‘If you want to introduce boys to science and give them a love for it, there is no better man than Larry Kelly.’
‘He never conformed to convention.’ It is easy to picture the looks on the faces of the welcoming party at Dublin Airport when Larry appeared in arrivals in his crumpled white habit, sockless, with his few belongings crammed into a small bag.
‘Pupils “caught” from him a passion for the simple things of life.’
‘His life was one big adventure.’

There is just so much that one can say in praise of this great man. There are so many stories about his exploits, often hair-raising; there is no time now to retell them. Suffice it to express enormous gratitude to God and to his family for the gift of Larry to us all. Any encounter with him resulted in enrichment and an unveiling of the secrets that nature holds leading us to see things in a better way and to see all that is around us with greater appreciation and gratitude.

On his return to Ireland in 2001 he was stationed in Oatlands, where he received a very warm welcome. He settled in very quickly and immediately interacted with the members of the community as if he had known them all his life. When he moved to St. Patrick’s, he was always genuinely appreciative and high in his praise for the wonderful care and help that he received from all during his stay here. To all concerned in looking after him so well, we join in thanking you for all that you did for him in such a warm and gentle way.

So Larry as we pray for you, may you pray for us that our eyes may continue to be opened to the wonders and marvels of our God-given world.

We leave the last word now to Br. Noel De Sa, past-pupil and now Community Leader in Bow Bazar, Kolkata:
“This is a sad time, and I am sure you will miss him as I will. But in a way I rejoice, that his spirit is set free from a body that was slowly limiting it. I have no doubt, in fact I can just see him, running around in the Garden of Eden amongst the birds and the bees, pointing out with that particular infectious child-like enthusiasm and awe, each new discovery he makes. In the words of the song of the same name, this man could paint with all the colours of the wind.
‘I have come that you might have Life, and have it in its Fullness’. If anyone understood the core of that message it was Larry.
    Ní bheidh a leithéid arís Ann.” (One like him will never be found)
—Br Pat Gaffney

yes i do remember bro. kelly well. how can we forget the wonderful times we spent watching all the movies with his makeshift tools to coax the projector to keep going.moveis dont seem the same n e more.
n the swims in the dam. he was a father figure every none of us needed in the boarding.
his canvas boat Hiawata, that never floated but persistantly got out on the water like it was the only worthwile thing there was to do.
his finger that had a bit missing n the rumour that he had absentl-mindedly shot it off.
mad-scientist, now wasnt he one, n i was proud to have been associated with him.
i was never priviliged to have studied under him but im sure his practical classes must have been straight out of 'scary movie'.
he was .............. i am at a loss for words n can only say that he truly touched our lives in many more ways than it is possible to put to paper.
lets hope he inspires more young men to continue to inspire future generations.
may his family have the pleasure to know that there r more people in diverse locations n fields that have nothing but the best to say about one of their loved one n hope these inadequete words may be some solace in their hour of pain.
i wish we could have a service around all the brothers schools in india.
—Sunil Noronha

Br Kelly! What a wonderful yet seemingly eccentric person he was. I remember him for his nicotine stained broken finger, his penchant for smoking filterless cigarettes, the stronger the better, and for Kellys Heroes, his group of his loyal followers at his workshop near the bakery and for his annual regatta in School Lake.

I remember my first lecture of Br Kelly in class 8 (1976). He strode into our classroom on the first floor with one arm tucked into his cassock like Napolean and with his left hand he started drawing some figures on the blackboard. Then suddenly he turned around, looked at me and said  "You! Stand up. Tell me what this is." I looked at the object he was pointing to and said nervously "A hockey stick?"

"And whats this" he demanded, pointing to another figure that he had drawn on the board . "That looks like a rocket taking off," I said. "And this?" "That is graph paper sir!" I murmured. "Hrrrump," he exclaimed and gestured for me to sit down. It later turned out that the objects in question were a bent glass tube, a bunsen burner and wire gauze! THAT was my introduction to laboratory equipment, courtesy Br. Kelly! And the wise guy in my class who answered those questions? Ivan Menezes, now CEO of DIageo USA, who scored 5 points and Rank # 1 in the Senior Cambridge exams.
—Jerry Lobo (1975)

Studying under Br Kelly was a rare privilege. He breathed science ... while we perspired it. The earth and all the things upon it were his teaching props, while his official lab was more a menagerie where some of us learned to care for pigeons, bees, scorpions and snakes. On a walk in the jungle—he enjoyed taking us swimming—he expounded on everything around us, from butterflies to diseased trees. The way he taught, it wasn't enough to read the book; we also had to use our heads and to think way out of the box. For a test in physics, he gave my classmate a 78 RPM record and said “Count the grooves.” A microscope wasn't offered. The chap needed to have the gumption and the nerve to ask for a record player, to play the record and time it.

He seemed to wear a frown almost permanently. Not an angry frown, but one of intensity and enquiry. He constantly strived for perfection. From his starched white habit to his straight-back posture, to his handwriting (and ours, or he'd be hovering over our shoulders, demanding: “Is that your best writing?”).

His lasting legacy at SMS is the chapel, which he principally designed. The fluted roof was quite original in its time, and worries were expressed about its impact on the acoustics. As it turned out, they were perfect. No, spectacular.

A few anecdotes:

We were on Big Pitch, playing baseball. Br Kelly and the Principal were present. The ground started to rumble. I'd never heard anything like it before. “Earthquake,” Kelly announced, in his typical measured, matter-of-fact tone. The Principal panicked and gesticulated. Kelly just looked hard and straight at his watch. When the rumbling stopped, he said, “Hmm. 17 seconds.” Living in California now, I instinctively time every earthquake, and frequently remember Kelly.

Joseph Guard was the School Manager. His wife helped in the small dorm. One day she got a deep cut on an artery, perhaps from a broken window pane. The blood gushed and there was quite a commotion. Br Kelly rushed in, placed a thumb on the critical spot on her forearm, and led her on a brisk walk to hospi (the Brothers later teased him mercilessly over the hand holding).

The morning after a storm, a power line had come down and blocked the road to school, just at the fork by Ali Baba's grave. Well before officialdom could respond, Kelly was there taking charge, holding the cable with a pair of pliers, gingerly hauling it out of the way. (Don't try this at home).

The proper definition of a kilogram: “The weight of a lump of metal kept in Paris.”

There was a chap in class who came up with a silly answer to a science question. Kelly sternly pointed to the aisle. “Stand out!”  The chap got out of his seat, fearing the worst. “Bend down!” Not sure what this was about, he dutifully doubled over. Kelly's frown disappeared for a moment, a big smile lit up his face and he commanded: “CHAAARGE!”

A generation of Abuites have been touched by his intellect, creativity, deportment, discipline and wit. We're forever grateful.
—Val Noronha (1973)