Kelly left mark on public safety

By Jessica Marrella
September 9, 2004

Guest Photographer

Tom Kelly, a Cabrini public safety officer for 9 years, passed away on July 13 at the age of 59 due to cancer. Kelly struggled with cancer throughout the past few years, but friends at Cabrini remember his high spirits and positive outlook on life.

Kelly first encountered cancer in 1999 when he was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. Then about one year ago Kelly began having vision problems, which was the result of a brain tumor. Kelly also developed a bad cough, which was because of a tumor on his lung. Despite complications due to radiation, Kelly pulled through both surgeries well. In January doctors found another tumor on Kelly’s liver but never had the opportunity to remove it.

Kelly first saw Cabrini on a campus tour with his one daughter and son who were prospective students. He fell in love with Cabrini’s atmosphere and applied for a position in the public safety department.

Kelly worked in the department for 6 years and then was promoted to Sergeant and worked the night shift from 4 pm until 12 am. After a year and a half as Sargent, Kelly gave up the position so that he could be a daylight officer again. According to Diana Pohl, Lieutenant, Kelly was a morning person and loved being on campus early. He would start his mornings with a 20 ounce cup of coffee with 10 sugars and 12 creams while he charmed Pohl with his Irishmen’s sense of humor by singing her Irish songs.

Kelly’s coworkers describe him as being devoted, helpful, organized and meticulous in paperwork. Last year Kelly set a record by writing over a thousand parking tickets. When his daughter attended Cabrini he even gave her a ticket because she drove her boyfriend’s car to school which did not have a parking permit. “We’re all going to miss Tom. He was a unique individual and there was no one in the department like him,” head of public safety Charlie Shaffner said.

Kelly always participated in anything on campus and made it a point to attend different activities. “Especially if there was food,” said Shaffner. “And coffee'” added Pohl. He would go to sporting events and various events in the mansion. Kelly also attended mass on campus. He wouldn’t work on Sunday’s because it interfered with church.

Reverend Father Michael Bielecki, who performed the service at Kelly’s funeral, found a friend in Kelly the first day he moved into Cabrini and Kelly offered to help him move boxes up to the third floor of the mansion. Kelly and Bielecki would share books and occasionally eat dinner together. According to Bielecki, Kelly would never carry on a negative conversation or gossip. Sometimes when Bielecki would go into the chapel at night he would find Kelly there. What Beilecki admired most about Kelly was that he never asked, “Why is God doing this?” He never questioned God or his faith because of his medical circumstances but rather lived each day to the fullest not taking anything for granted. “He was very spiritual yet very human and down to earth,” said Beilecki.

Kelly was a family oriented person. He was the father of four, three daughters and one son, and widowed two wives. He also had one sister and two brothers. Kelly always spoke highly of his family.

Kelly’s last vacation was in December of 2002 and he spent one month at the Mepkin Abbey monastery in South Carolina. Kelly learned of Mepkin through Beilecki. Kelly needed a letter of recommendation in order to go which Beilecki wrote for him. At Mepkin Kelly helped monks raise chickens to sell. Kelly loved the experience.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jessica Marrella

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap