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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Fire Marshal
Age: 61
Year of Death: 2020

Robert J. Kelly

Robert J. Kelly Jr. was a strong and courageous man with a heart of gold. Robert was born to Mary and Robert Kelly in Levittown, New York, in 1959. He was a graduate of Division Avenue High School, Class of 1977. After high school, he went on to study hotel management at SUNY Delhi, New York. After a successful career in the restaurant business, Robert joined the NYC Fire Department as a firefighter on September 8, 1991. He was assigned to Ladder 128 in Queens. On March 31, 2007, Robert was promoted to fire marshal at Fort Totten, Queens, where he served the city of New York until he retired in August 2012.

While his career with the FDNY was important to him, nothing compared to the love and devotion he had for his family. In 1987, Robert married Jacqueline Schouten and later had four girls, Nicole, Kristie, Jaime, and Jillian. Family was the pillar and strength in Robert’s life; there wasn’t anything more important to him. His legacy lives on in his girls with the morals and wisdom they each have, the strength to persevere in hard times, and the love they have for each other.

Robert fought courageously after his brain cancer diagnosis in July 2019, which was a result of his work as a firefighter in NYC on and after 9/11. He passed away on December 20, 2020, while surrounded by his loved ones and brothers of the FDNY.

He is survived by his wife, Jackie Kelly; four daughters, Nicole, Kristie, Jaime, and Jillian; and grandson, Leo. Since Robert’s passing, he has had three more grandchildren, Lucia Mignano, Nora Wittenberg, and Rory Robert Dutton. He is also survived by his two sisters, Sheila Kelly and Susan Papalia (Kelly).

All those who had the honor of knowing Robert knew he was a genuine, kind, loyal, give you the shirt off his back kind of guy. He is remembered for his sense of humor, his incredible ability to fix anything, and for his love of unreliable sports teams (Let’s go, Mets and Giants!). The man enjoyed the simple things in life, classic rock and a cold beer, but above all he put his family first.

The loss of Robert was a great loss in so many ways. We lost a husband, father, and best friend. He was the guiding force in all our lives. His bright and generous spirit is missed by so many.

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