It's not surprising rain poured down from heaven the day of John Kelly's memorial mass in Skaneateles. John would have hated to take his family and friends off the lake on a beautiful summer day.
A still-stunned multigenerational crowd, mostly clothed in black, filled St. Mary's of the Lake to the brim. The first pew on the left side of the church was filled with Kellys who at times throughout the service interlaced their hands. Behind them were more family and friends. Police officers filled several of the front pews on the right side of the church. This included 60 uniformed officers from the Richmond, Va. Police Department, Sheriff Kevin Walsh, Skaneateles Chief of Police Lloyd Perkins, several other local officers and John's longtime friend Corey McNeil, who is now a police officer in Greece. All of their badges were banded in black -- to show respect for their fallen brother.
Looking back down the main aisle and out the front door there were blue lights flashing from the Richmond police cars and a sea of umbrellas. Outside many more of John's friends and admirers couldn't even get into the church to stand in the aisle or in the vestibules. Eric Allyn said instead they stayed and gathered out front and reminisced about the youngest of seven Kellys. For one generation of Skaneatelians he was either your peer or everyone's little brother.
St. Mary's Father McGrath thanked the gathering for coming and told them how much it meant to Ted and Sheila Kelly and their children and grandchildren.
He borrowed snippets from the media that had been written about John in his new hometown of Richmond, Va. Remarks from his chief of police and fellow officers captured his tenacity, his personality and his drive.
It wasn't surprising to hear that John had been an altar boy at St. Mary's. He had the classic requirements - freckles, a willingness to serve and a heart full of mischief.