Robert Charles Kelly | Obituary

July 13, 1931 – September 20, 2023

Robert Charles Kelly of Mercer Island passed away peacefully on September 20th, 2023. He was 92 years old.

Robert (Bob) was born on July 13th, 1931, in Seattle, Washington. He was the second born to Robert and Josephine Kelly. His father was a journeyman electrician and mom did some bookkeeping. He was raised in West Seattle attending Holy Rosary and Seattle Prep. He graduated from Seattle Prep in 1949.

Bob moved onto Seattle University where he majored in Business Administration and Finance. He spent his off time working in the hardware store his parents started on Sand Point Way (Kelly Hardware) which kept the family quite busy. Bob was also quite active in several clubs and was Student Body President at SU. He graduated in 1953 and was promptly drafted into the US Army. He spent two years stationed at Fairchild Airforce Base in Spokane.

Bob spent many weekends attaining passes home while stationed at Fairchild. He had met Barbara VanDerhoef when she was a freshman (2 years his junior) at SU. They ran in some of the same social circles but never dated. They reconnected at a wedding for a mutual friend post Bob’s graduation. Passes were used to visit with and court Barbara. Bob was discharged from the Army and Barb graduated in 1955. They were married on July 14th, 1956.

Bob and Barb moved to a home they built in the Lake Hills area of Bellevue in October of 1958. Barb was teaching at Olympic Hills Elementary and Bob had gone to work for a small aerospace firm, United Data Control.

Their lives were full by 1964 with 4 children and all the activities that accompanied them. Bob coached soccer and football. He was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader who went on countless hiking and backpacking trips. Supervised summer camps and helped with fund raisers. Bob and Barb were at all their children’s school, sports, music, and church activities. Bob and Barb helped found St, Louise Catholic Church and were Eucharistic Ministers for many years. They were also founding members of Phantom Lake Bath & Tennis Club. They spent countless volunteer hours there for all kinds of activities. They both served as Board Presidents. Bob led the major renovation of the pool facility as president.

Bob left what was now Sunstrand Data Control in 1971 and joined his father and brother (John) at Pacific Lamp and Supply Co. in Seattle. His father had sold the hardware store in 1959 and purchased Pacific Lamp. Their father retired a few years later and Bob and John continued to grow the business. In 1987, Bob’s sons spun off a part of the business and started Kelsun Distributors Inc in Bellevue. Bob sold his interest in Pacific Lamp and joined his sons in a new venture. Bob was Chairman Emeritus when Kelsun closed in 2018.

Bob built his dream house on Mercer Island in 1982. The property was purchased by Bob’s dad in 1943 and he purchased a view lot 2 doors down from his parents. The house was home for Christmas Eve’s and countless birthday parties. It held many wonderful memories. Barb and Bob spent their final years at Aljoya (retirement community) on Mercer Island. They have been parishioners at St. Monicas since 1982.

Bob lived an exceptional life of faith. He was a man of purpose, principles, and integrity. He loved his wife and children deeply. He was preceded in death by Barbara and his brother John. He is survived by his sons Brian (Sunita), Bruce (Betsy), Brad (Debbie) and daughter, Betsy. Also, his sister Jan Shaw. Bob has 8 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren and numerous loving nieces and nephews.

A Funeral Mass will be held at 11:30am, on Thursday, October 12, 2023 at St. Louise Catholic Church, 141 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue, WA 98007. A private family Internment will be at Tahoma National Cemetery at a later date. Friends are invited to view photos, get updated service information and share memories at