A Voice from the Eastern Door


AKWESASNE – Benjamin Joseph Kelly, age 94, passed away on Saturday, February 4, 2023 at Massena Hospital, where he had been a patient.

Benjamin was born on October 8, 1928 in Saranac Lake to Benjamin Joseph and Anna Bero Kelly. His parents met at the Trudeau Tuberculosis Sanitarium, where he was a patient and she was a nurse aide. Benjamin's father died when he was two years old and at that point, he and his sister were raised in Akwesasne with his grandparents Charlotte Hill Bero and Louis Bero. He attended St. Regis Mohawk Elementary school in Hogansburg and graduated from Bombay High School. While in high school , he was a member of two very strong athletic teams in basketball and baseball. This was a source of great pride for him and he and his teammates loved to reminisce.

He was a hard worker on the family's small farm and for many of the surrounding farms as well. He had a reputation as being reliable and strong. After high school graduation, he attended Potsdam College for two years where he played basketball. He then joined the US Army during the Korean Conflict. After he was honorably discharged, he married Elizabeth Jock on July 17, 1954 and they celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary last year prior to her death on September 29th. He worked at Alcoa for a short time and then began his 30 year association with the St. Lawrence Seaway. When he retired, he had gone through several promotions and ending his career as a Superintendent of the Locks. After retirement, he and his wife enjoyed traveling and were able to see 49 states and several Canadian provinces. They were proud of their children and grandchildren and enjoyed watching them all do well in school and in athletics.

He was a great fan of the New York Yankees and the New York Giants and never failed to be disappointed in the Syracuse Orangemen. For over 25 years, he coached the little league baseball team, Hogansburg American Legion Chiefs and is still known to many of his players as "Coach." He was a lifelong communicant of St. Regis Catholic Church, where he was active in the Kateri Circle. As a veteran, he was also a proud active member for over 55 years of the Andrew W. Cook American Legion Post #1479, where he was serving as a trustee at the time of his death.

He and his wife both enjoyed the casino and greatly enjoyed their time as an active members of the St. Regis Mohawk Senior Citizens where he acted as their president for several years and was their favorite bingo caller. He said he always felt it was poor manners to turn down a cold beer.

He is survived by his son Ben and wife, Mary, son Bruce and wife, Jocelyn, daughter Barbara, son Larry and wife Sherry Garrow, and son Terry Garrow and companion, Linda. He is also survived by a very special niece and nephew Jan Herne and Joy Jock. Additionally, he is survived by a half-brother, Michael "Buster" Tarbell and step sister, Thelma Tarbell. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Patrick, Elizabeth, Anna, Abigail and Benjamin; a great grandson, Julian Gray and numerous nieces and nephews whom he loved very much.

In addition to his parents and his wife, he was predeceased by a sister, Marjorie Beaubien and her husband, Leonard; half-sisters, Patricia Calley, Barbara Bush, Larry Tarbell and Cecilia Trombley; a stepbrother, Les Tarbell and his wife, Bessie; and a stepsister, Norma Tarbell.

Arrangements are under the care and guidance of the Donaldson Funeral Home, Massena where friends may call Wednesday 2-5:00 PM and Thursday 2-3:00 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday 4:00 PM at St. Regis Catholic Church with Revs. Martin Cline and Jerome Pastores concelebrating. Burial will be in the spring in St. Joseph's Cemetery, Hogansburg.

Memorial contributions may be made in his memory to the St. Regis Mohawk Senior Citizens Club.

Friends are encouraged to share memories and offer condolences online at http://www.donaldsonfh.com.


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