February 6, 2024 at 5:30 a.m.

James Thomas “Tom” Kelly III

Kelly
Kelly

James Thomas “Tom” Kelly III, 81, passed away peacefully on 1 February 2024 while at home with his family by his side. Despite his recent health struggles, he still managed to approach life with laughter and jokes. Ever the entertainer, he amused all of us until the very end and will continue to make us smile with our memories.

Tom is survived by his wife of 41 years, Kathleen Kelly, as well as children Bridget (Hank) Flickinger, Erin Kelly, Jen (Casey) Wolf, Erik (Emilce) Kelly, Rex (Emily Davis) Kelly, Kate (Brian) Yonker; sisters-in-law Vicki (Tom) Schultz and Jackie Mosetter; grandchildren Keely Vaughan, William Fillo, Patrick Fillo, Laura Clabaugh, Tess Clabaugh, Cobi Wolf, Dylan Wolf, Ethan Yonker, Gavon Yonker, and Charlie Davis Kelly; nieces Meaghan Vils, Tara Stimpson, Courtney Kelly-Tisdale, Heather Londo, Amy Londo, Nicci Londo, and nephew Jeffrey Mosetter, and their collective children, and his constant cat companion, Baby. 

Tom was preceded in death by his parents James Thomas Kelly Jr. & Eileen Kelly, his great-aunt Ada Dehnert, infant daughter Mary Ellen, and his beloved brother, Patrick Kelly.

Tommy Kelly, or JTK III, as he was affectionately known to most of us, lived a long life and there is so much to say about him and not enough space. Tom was born on 8 May 1942 and grew up in the greater Milwaukee area. He attended both Marquette High School and Marquette University. He moved to the Northwoods in the 1970s and since then has been involved in many things: Boy Scouts, City Council, County Board, Knights of Columbus, multiple committees, and more. Tom worked as a bartender at the Al-Gen for three decades and in that time he was known for making stellar Old Fashioneds, but if you ever asked for an ice cream drink, he would cuss you out. He was noted in the New York Times as a featured bartender and was very proud of that. He thoroughly enjoyed not only serving the citizens of Rhinelander and Oneida County but all of the customers he served over the years.

Tom was a proud Irish man who was an avid reader and obsessed with everything relating to the Civil War. It was rare to see him without a pen in hand, dutifully completing the most challenging crossword puzzles to ever exist. He also knew how to fix sewing machines, a skill no one in his family could ever figure out how he learned.

If you knew Tom, you knew what it was like to laugh, smile, and either enjoy or tolerate all sorts of dad jokes. One of our family favorite jokes is the “Brown Joke.” He often bragged to people about his pride and joy and would open his wallet to people expecting to see a picture of his kids, but it was a picture of two soap bottles labeled “pride and joy.” Classic Tom Kelly.

Tom/Dad, you sure left a mark on this world through your entertaining and loving ways. You were always a stoic and prideful man, but we know how much you loved your family and friends. We were all blessed to know and love you, and we will miss you. Heaven sure got a lot funnier since you left.

Visitation for Tom will be held on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024 from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at noon, all at the Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church in Rhinelander. 

Father Chris Kemp will be officiating. 

Tom was known to wear an eclectic assortment of ties so the family encourages attendees to wear funny, unique, or a standard tie if desired. In lieu of flowers, cards, and other gifts, the family asks that you donate supplies and/or sponsor a pet adoption at your local humane society. Dad was always a fan of animals, and he would be happy to know an animal found a loving home.

Special thanks to everyone who helped Dad with his medical care and kept his pride and dignity intact through the end; he appreciated that. 

You may leave your private condolences for the Kelly family at www.carlsonfh.com. 

The Carlson Funeral Home (715-369-1414) is serving the Kelly family.


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