Remembering Olivet alumnus and leader Selden D. Kelley

Former Alumni Association president recently passed away.

June 29, 2018 Uncategorized

Selden Dee Kelley Jr. ’46 passed away on Saturday, May 19, 2018 — just two weeks before his 92nd birthday. He was the son of former Olivet President Selden Dee Kelley Sr., who served from 1948 to 1949. Many Kelley family members have attended Olivet. Kelley Prayer Chapel on Olivet’s campus bears the family name.

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“The passing of Selden Kelley marks the end of an era in the Olivet story,” said University President John C. Bowling. “His many years of service and support for ONU continue to enrich the life of the University.  Kelley Prayer Chapel — which was dedicated in honor of his father, President Selden Kelley — will now also bring to mind the legacy of Selden Kelley Jr.” 

Known to many as “Kelley,” Selden Dee Kelley Jr. was born on June 3, 1926, in Norwood, Ohio, to Selden Sr. and Dorothy (Montgomery) Kelley. He was married to Nona (Powers) ’50, and they are the parents of a son, Selden Dee Kelley III ’78/’86 M.A., and a daughter, Bobbe (Kelley) Campbell ’74.

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During his life, Kelley enjoyed a long and successful career as a business leader. He held a M.B.A. degree from Boston University. He also received an honorary doctorate (L.L.D.) from Olivet.

In 1948, he entered the U.S. Navy, where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Senior Grade. He also served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve Supply Corps. In 1952, he joined the staff of United States Rubber Co. and rose from sales representative to district sales manager. He retired as vice president of sales for Dayton Marine, a division of Libby-Owen-Ford Corporation.

Kelley served as a member of the General Board of the Church of the Nazarene; a delegate to many General Assemblies; and a church board member and minister of music at churches in St. Louis, Missouri; Evansville, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; and in the Ohio cities of Springfield, Dayton, Cincinnati and Cleveland. 

For more than 25 years, Kelley was president of Olivet’s Alumni Association Board. “Dad’s love for Olivet and his commitment to its success was a defining characteristic of his life,” said Dee, his son. “He was a champion of Olivet’s mission and a crusader of its best ideals.” 

After leaving active service on the Board, Kelley continued to serve in an emeritus role. He was also a member of the Olivet Board of Trustees. In 2016, he attended his final Olivet Homecoming celebration.

A memorial service is planned for later this year at the Kelley Prayer Chapel with interment at the nearby columbarium. 

“Olivet’s history is forever intertwined with the Kelley family,” said Dr. Brian Allen, vice president for institutional advancement. “Selden’s legacy is very much alive here. His commitment to Olivet’s mission was significant. We celebrate his life, and we are grateful for his influence.”


Published: 6/29/2018

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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