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Patricia Virginia Byrd Kelly, family matriarch who was active in Right to Life of Maryland, dies

Patricia Virginia Byrd Kelly was honored by the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Catholic Bishops of Maryland in June 1988 for her “untiring efforts in defense of the unborn.”
Patricia Virginia Byrd Kelly was honored by the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Catholic Bishops of Maryland in June 1988 for her “untiring efforts in defense of the unborn.”

Patricia Virginia Byrd Kelly, a family matriarch who was active in Right to Life of Maryland, died of complications from congestive heart failure and dementia Friday at her Carroll County home, Portumna. She was 88 and lived for many years in Ten Hills.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Ten Hills and Pittsburgh, she was the daughter of Austin L. Byrd, owner of the Harrison Bolt and Nut Co., and his wife, Frances Murphy. She was a 1950 graduate of Notre Dame Preparatory School and earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from what is now Notre Dame of Maryland University.

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She taught at the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute, a residential school for children with special needs.

After a blind date and a two-year courtship, she married Dr. Edward M. Kelly in 1956. They were married at St. William of York Roman Catholic Church in Ten Hills, where they settled and raised their 10 children on Nottingham Road.

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“While she had her hands full running a busy and emergent household, Pat was also a volunteer at her church and children’s schools and held leadership positions at St. William of York School and parish and the Loyola High School Mother’s Club,” said a daughter, Susan Walsh of Branford, Connecticut.

“Her home was a haven for her children and their friends, and her kitchen served legions,” her daughter said. "There was always a basketball or Wiffle ball game in her yard, a homemade cake ready, and a welcoming smile at her door. Pat was warm, fun, and intellectually curious.”

Mrs. Kelly was a Right to Life of Maryland volunteer from 1980 through 1990 and from 1990 through 2001 was a family life issues lobbyist for the Maryland Catholic Conference.

In June 1988, she was honored by the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Catholic Bishops of Maryland for her “untiring efforts in defense of the unborn.”

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington’s Legislative Network also recognized her “for her outstanding leadership in defending human life.”

In 1999 she worked to see passage of a bill promoting the dignity of the human person. She was photographed with Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening when the legislation was signed into law.

“People from the other side of the life issue often told her they did not agree with my mother, but they pointed out how persistent, gracious and dignified she was in her advocacy of her positions," said a son, John Kelly of Reisterstown.

In addition to her husband of 63 years, a retired orthodontist who practiced on Ingleside Avenue, and daughter and son, survivors include three other sons, Edward Kelly and Stephen Kelly, both of Westminster, and Timothy Kelly of Ventnor City, New Jersey; four other daughters, Ellen Cordrey of Florida, Mary Patricia Wickstrom of Worcester, Massachusetts, Janet Sause of Baltimore, and Anne Marie Carr of Cape Cod, Massachusetts; a brother, Austin L. Byrd of Baltimore; a sister, Mary Frances Bradyhouse of Ellicott City; 23 grandchildren; and a great-grandson. A daughter, Kathleen Marie Kelly, died in 1983.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 44 Frederick St. in Taneytown. Burial will be held at the family farm.

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