Rosemary Lay was born on January 1, 1925 at her home in the village of Knob Noster, Missouri. She loved growing up in the safe and secure environment of a small town.
At Knob Noster High School, Rosemary met Ray Kelly, who became her high school sweetheart and the love of her life. Like so many young people that age, World War II delayed their plans. Ray has gone to war and Rosemary has gone to college in the Missouri Valley. She graduated in 1946.
Ray returned from the war, but still needed to finish his interrupted education. Eventually, after graduation, they married in 1949. Ray took a job as an engineer and they moved to Kansas City.
In 1950, Rosemary gave birth to a colicky boy, Mark. While he paced the floor trying to put the little rascal to sleep, he had baseball games for company. The baby eventually grew out of colic, but she remained a lifelong baseball fan.
Ray’s work with the Missouri Highway Department took them from Kansas City to Willow Springs, Missouri, where sons Jay and Andrea were born, then to Sikeston, Missouri in the Missouri “Bootheel” region. In 1959, another move brought the family back to the Kansas City area, to Raytown.
Unfortunately, not long after, Ray started developing physical problems and was eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Rosemary stepped forward. She learned to drive, got her license, then got a job as a secretary in the maintenance department at Raytown Schools.
It wasn’t long before Ray’s symptoms not only prevented him from getting to work, but left him in a wheelchair and unable to take care of himself. Rosemary has retired from her job at the school district and has devoted herself to her care. With the help and support of the Visiting Nurses Association, she was able to keep Ray at home until his death in 1980.
Meanwhile, her eldest son was emerging from an early marriage as a single parent with two young boys to care for. Rosemary has invited Mark and his sons Eric and Brian to her home.
Her youngest children, Jay and Andrea (Andee) also got married, blessing her with 4 more grandchildren.
After Ray’s death, Rosemary returned to work as a maintenance department secretary at Raytown schools. Then, in 1987, Rosemary sold her home in Raytown and moved to Arrow Rock, Missouri, a small town much like the town of her formative years. In partnership with her brother and sister-in-law, James and Marge Kelly, and their friends Bill and Judy Tucker, she purchased the Main Street waterfront Country Store from her former teacher.
In Arrow Rock, Rosemary quickly became a part of the community, joining the Merchant’s Association and the Daughters of the American Revolution. She had a log home built to her specifications. She has helped support community events, inaugurated the theater and baked cookies or her fabulous pecan pies for fundraisers. She has known all of her neighbors and many of them have been friends with her for the rest of her life.
Even the city she loved embraced her. As she got older, stopped driving and eventually became less mobile, many of her neighbors stepped forward to carry her mail, to drive her to events and make sure she was okay. The life she lived in Arrow Rock was the life she always wanted.
Survivors include two sons: Jay Kelly of Columbia, Missouri; Mark Kelly (Simone) of Overland Park, Kansas.; six grandchildren; you are great-grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; a sister, Barbara Marino of Leawood, Kansas; as well as nephews, nieces and other extended family.
Rosemary was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Ray; a sister, Josephine Hughes; and her daughter, Andrea O’Neill.
Rosemary lived a long and fulfilling life filled with many blessings. She loved keeping up with her family and her friends and neighbors. Everything she gave ultimately came back to her in support, care and concern. She loved and was loved in her turn. Her story is now complete, but it’s worth celebrating. She lived as we should all live.
A celebration of Rosemary’s life will be held on Monday, February 6, 2023 at 1:30 pm at The Federated Church, 506 High Street, Arrow Rock, Missouri. In addition to flowers (the flowers Rosemary loves), donations can be made to the Lyceum Theater or friends at Arrow Rock. An online guestbook is available at www.campbell-lewis.com