A Legend’s Passing: Remembering Dick Kelley

After a three-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, Boston College Sports Information Director and Assistant Athletics Director Dick Kelley passed away on Thursday evening at Massachusetts General Hospital.

For over two decades at Chestnut Hill, Kelley served as the primary contact for BC’s men’s basketball team. He assisted the men’s ice hockey, soccer, and football teams, as well. In the early 1990s, Kelley taught a newswriting course for BC’s communication department.

Kelley, who graduated from BC in 1987 with his bachelor’s degree in communication and political science, returned to his alma mater in 1991 as an assistant sports information director, after being an assistant media relations director at Boston University. For BU, he worked with the men’s soccer, basketball, and baseball teams. In 1999, Kelley was the assistant media coordinator for the East Region First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, which was hosted by BC at the Fleet Center.

Raised by his parents Ann and Ed in Andover, Mass., Kelley became a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. The latter organization awarded Kelley with its Most Courageous Award last February. A ceremony at center court before the men’s basketball team’s game with Virginia honored Kelley with the award. Then-freshman Joe Rahon’s last-second shot to beat the Cavaliers happened in front of Kelley, who was seated on press row. After the buzzer sounded, the team rushed over to their hero, hugging him and patting him on the back to complete an emotional day at Conte Forum.

Kelley was remembered by the team with a slideshow and moment of silence on Sunday evening, before its ACC matchup with rival Notre Dame.
After being diagnosed with ALS in September 2011, Kelley served as the team’s sports information director, until the disease limited his abilities. The University helped Kelley move into an apartment at 2000 Commonwealth Ave. after he could no longer use the stairs in his condo. The apartment allowed him to stay involved with the athletic department. Ryan Anderson regularly walked or took the bus to visit him.

When Anderson came to BC, Kelley was healthy. The junior grew close to Kelley in his time at BC and would visit the SID’s office.

“DK has had a humongous impact on my BC experience,” Anderson said on Sunday after the men’s basketball team game against Notre Dame. “When I showed up, my recruiting class, he was completely healthy.”

Even as Kelley’s condition worsened, he continued to meet with members of the team. Kelley had last season’s recruiting class over for dinner in its first week on campus to get to know them. He had 10-minute talks with Olivier Hanlan and Rahon on being a student-athlete at BC.

Kelley spoke to them about the importance of representing the school well and being involved in the BC community. Those conversations were some of Kelley’s last before the disease virtually took away his ability to speak.

Kelley loved BC and what the school stands for. He had great influence over those who spent time with him, especially Anderson.

“Just the impact he had, calling me into his office, texting me, going to eat with him at dinner, and stuff like that,” Anderson said. “I’m always going to be extremely thankful for the things that he helped me with in my BC experience.”

Kelley will be remembered as an exceptional sports information director. He served student-athletes, his colleagues, and members of the media from the Boston-area and around the country.

Kelley mentored the likes of Matt Ryan, Reggie Jackson, Mike Mattou, and Jared Dudley in his tenure at the Heights.

Kelley is survived by his parents, his brother Ted, wife Carrie, brother Patrick, nephews Michael and Ryan, and nieces Emma and Meghan.

Visitation hours for Kelley will be held on Monday, Feb. 17 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Lehman, Reen & McNamara Funeral Home in Brighton, and the Funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. at the Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

Kelley was 48 years old.

February 17, 2014