In Memory of Jack Kelly
May 25, 1945 - July 24, 2013

NICHOLASVILLE, KENTUCKY - Kelly, John Patrick (Jack), 68, a dear friend of the World Air League since it's formation, passed away on Wednesday, after his two-year battle with cancer.

He was born on May 25, 1945 in Newton, Massachusetts.

Jack graduated with honors from Northeastern University and earned an MS/MBA from Purdue’s Krannert School of Business.

He married Mary Kathleen (Kathy) Evans in 1967 and had two children, Michael (1968), and Kerry (1970).

Jack was known for his love of sports, his photographic memory for numbers and statistics, his storytelling, and his ability to make any event or trip a true adventure. He doted on his grandkids, and as driven as he was in his work, he was never too busy to follow all their exploits.

He enjoyed a successful 16-year corporate career in which he served as an officer of Tenneco Inc. and the American General Corporation in Houston, Texas.

In 1984 he was named the Executive Director of the Houston 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival, and thus began his labor of love. He was a sports fan all his life, and he was thrilled that his work overlapped his passion for all sports. For the rest of his career, he was always involved in sporting events.

He served as the Executive Director of two separate U.S. Olympic Festivals: in Houston in 1986 and Minneapolis-St. Paul in 1990. He served as the president of Turner Broadcasting’s Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia. Also while in Atlanta, Jack formed Event Partners, a respected sports consulting firm, which eventually served over 150 sports organizations and municipal clients. He then took over the CEO position of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America, in Dallas, Texas. There, Jack was also the CEO of the Space City (Houston) Sports Commission, where he directed Houston’s 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympic Games bids.

In 2006, Jack took on the role as the CEO for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

His battle with cancer didn’t slow his passion for work and sports. At the time of his death, he was hard at work on sports projects including Professional Disc Golf, MCN, an Internet sports broadcast company, and Smart Bug, Inc.

He made weekly guest appearances on the WLXG radio show Sports Huddle, was the monthly columnist “The Event Doctor” for Sports Travel magazine, and was a regular speaker on sporting event management.

Various honors he received include the following:

  • 2007: “One of 25 Most Influential People in Sports in United States” (Sports and Events Magazine)
  • 1995: Old Master (Purdue University)
  • 1993: Lifetime Achievement Award (USA Baseball)
  • 1986: Houstonian of the Year (Houston City Magazine)

In 2007, Jack joined the World Air League as a Director and Executive Vice President for Business Development. Jack participated in World Sky Race organizing events in Germany, Bermuda, Jordan, Indonesia and around the USA.

Jack's counsel and friendship will be missed.

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