Joseph B. Kelly, a retired University of Maryland School of Medicine researcher who enjoyed fine dining and listening to vintage jazz, died June 5 of renal failure at Northwest Hospital. He was 81.
The son of a chauffeur and a homemaker, Mr. Kelly was born in Baltimore and raised on West Waesche Street near what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center.
After graduating in 1948 from Carver Vocational-Technical High School, he worked as a dental assistant for Dr. Isaac Young before being drafted into the Army in 1950.
Mr. Kelly served with an infantry unit in Korea and was discharged with the rank of corporal in 1953.
After leaving the Army, Mr. Kelly went to work as an assistant to Dr. James G. Arnold Jr., a neurosurgeon who established the neurosurgery division at the University of Maryland medical school.
Mr. Kelly was trained by Dr. Arnold to perform research on animals with brain tumors, which helped train doctors to perform delicate surgery successfully on humans.
When Mr. Kelly retired in 1983, Dr. Morton I. Rapoport, who was then CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System, said, "If it wasn't for Joe Kelly, I would not have made it through medical school."
The longtime Wesley Avenue resident liked to eat in Baltimore's upscale restaurants, and during the heyday of the Pennsylvania Avenue clubs and the old Royal Theater enjoyed going there to listen to jazz and see shows.
"He loved the music of Frank Sinatra and loved giving and going to parties," said a niece, Kelly Hill-Ross of Owings Mills.
His wife of 48 years, Minyon Henson, died in 1999.
Mr. Kelly was a member of New All Saints Roman Catholic Church.
Services will be held at noon Friday at the Joseph H. Brown Funeral Home, 2140 N. Fulton Ave.
Also surviving are a son, Harold J. Kelly of Baltimore; a daughter, Robin Johnson of Baltimore; a sister, Mary "Doris" Parker of Woodlawn; and three grandchildren.