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In Memory of Mary Kelly

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Mary Kelly

Mary Kelly passed away at her Hollister residence on July 9th, 2020. Mary Canavan was born in Brooklyn, NY on February 23, 1931. She was raised by her parents Edgar and Leona Canavan, the younger sibling of Edgar II, in the Brooklyn community on East 9th Street where she lived next door to her best friends, Ingrid Ackermann and Dotty DeSanta. Mary entertained the neighbors with her antics, including backing the car out at 10 years old in her attempt to go for a drive. The valedictorian of her 1949 graduating class from St. Brendan’s Diocesan High School for Girls, Mary was headed for great things, and began her career working for a music company in the Empire State Building. She enjoyed all the great things that Manhattan had to offer, and spent her summers at Sheepshead Bay. Soon Mary longed to see the world and decided to become a stewardess. The United Air Lines Stewardess School graduating class of August 2, 1952 included Mary Leuthner Whalen and Marie Nealon Adickes; who would go on to be Mary’s lifelong friends. They shared wonderful times, and racked up many great stories that are still being told to this day. Mary had great success as a stewardess and even made the newspapers with one particular article in 1953 about her heading the first stewardess crew on United’s new daily DC-6 non-stop men-only flight between Newark and Chicago, serving steak dinner and cigars! Mary met the man of her dreams in 1954 on a flight from Seattle to Los Angeles. Mary and Neil Kelly were married the following January in 1955. They initially settled in Seattle, and then Neil convinced Mary that it would be better to build their own house, so they moved to Menlo Park, California where they built two houses. Soon Neil got a captain bid out of O’Hare, so they moved to Illinois. And as expected, they embarked on building two more houses in Downers Grove. While vacationing in Hawaii, Mary and Neil met Wence and Doris McDonald, who raced standardbred harness horses. Then, after just settling into their newly built home in Downers Grove, Neil bought a 44-acre farm in Elgin, they bought ½ interest in two standardbred pacers and Monterey Farm was born. In 1967, driver/trainer Gene Vallandingham joined forces with Mary and Neil, and their main business was claiming and racing. Neil was a pilot for United Air Lines, so Mary held down the farm while Neil was flying, doing the books, managing inoculations, swimming horses, and raising their three children. Five years later, in 1971, Monterey Farm set a record, winning 119 races in a single year. In 1973, Mary and Neil sold their farm in Elgin, Illinois and moved 79 head of horses to California. Mary worked tirelessly on the planning to transport 29 of them on a United Air Lines DC-8 cargo liner. Mary and Neil’s standard-bred horses raced successfully for many years in California. They also ran a breeding farm, standing the top standard-bred stallion in California for many years, and then converted the farm in Hollister to row crop, which it still is today. Mary raised their three children, Colleen, Susan and Chris, with energy, laughs and love. “Granmary” loved spending time with their grandchildren, entertaining them as they grew up spending many long days on the farm. She will always be remembered for teaching every one of them to drive….starting with them on her lap going down the runway. Mary was a die-hard Laker fan and everyone will always remember her famous “YEEOOOWWW” when Kobe made a basket! Mary was always known for being a style icon and continually on-the-go. She nailed shingles on the roofs of the houses they built, drove horses on their training track, traveled with Neil on his international trips, and ran Monterey Farm’s business side by side with Neil for almost 40 years. Mary passed away, surrounded by her family, on July 09, 2020. Mary is survived by Neil Kelly, her husband of 65 years, their three children, Colleen (Guillermo) Murguia, Susan (Greg) Hogan and Chris (Lianne) Kelly, their six grandchildren, Jarrod Wells, Kelly (Brandon) Kasper and Ciara (Tommy) Goines (Colleen’s children), Catherine and Jack Hogan (Susan’s children), and Tabitha Kelly (Chris’ daughter), three great-grandchilden, Ronald and Rhett Kasper and Charlotte Goines, her brother Edgar (Ingrid) Canavan, nieces and nephews Edgar (Valentina) Canavan III, Dr. Lydia Canavan (Roy) Skog, Lorna (Randy) Kahn, and Bryan Canavan.