Robert J. Kelley


A New Hampshire native, Bob was born in Hanover. Son of Ruth and Ronald Kelley, he grew up in Manchester-by-the-Sea but returned to NH each summer to work in his grandparents’ store. 

A born athlete, he played sports throughout his school years, graduating from Manchester High School with letters in baseball, football, and basketball in 1967.

Bob started college at Colgate University but left to join the Air Force in 1968.

He served as an MP, based at USAF base in Mildenhall, England.  He also played football for the USAF throughout Europe during his tour of duty.

Bob met his wife, Carol Bates, at Mildenhall, where she was working as an exchange teacher.  He and Carol were married in 1973 in Barton City, Michigan.

They resided in Newmarket, NH while Bob completed his degree at UNH and Carol taught at nearby schools. 

After graduating, Bob taught English and coached basketball at Newmarket Junior High.  There he formed relationships with staff and students that continued over the following 45 years. 

After the birth of his first son, Bob began a career in his father’s business as a manufacturers’ rep selling china and giftware throughout the New England area.

Bob loved people.  He had the gift of really listening and always giving his full attention.  He had a great sense of humor.  He could mimic any accent, entertaining clients and friends alike with jokes and stories.  His colleagues, across many years and many miles, considered him a great friend.

Bob also loved to fish and carried a rod in the trunk of his car wherever he went on his sales trips. He knew every back road in New England, and every pond, river, and stream along those roads.  He carried this love of fishing all the way to northern Michigan where he spent many summers fishing with Carol’s friends and relatives. 

Bob and Carol settled in a house in Newfields where they remained for 45 years, raising two sons, Brian and Sean.

After leaving the giftware business, Bob put his military background to use as a manager for Securitas, working many years as the Chief of Security at the Lindt factory in Stratham.  Local first responders and law enforcement officers held him in high regard.

Bob and Carol moved to Exeter in 2019.

Bob loved and followed all the Boston sports teams.  Of course, the Red Sox were closest to his heart, and when he watched a game, it was just impossible for him to sit still. 

Bob is survived by his beloved wife, Carol Bates Kelley, and his sons Brian and Sean Kelley.  He also leaves behind his brother, Kevin Kelley, his sister, Kathleen Kelley Bruce, and many nephews and nieces. He will be greatly missed by innumerable friends and former colleagues.

He was a sweet soul with a big heart, and the world is a better place for him having been here.

A memorial celebration will be held in the spring.

robert kelley, mildenhall, barton city, air force, manchester high school, carol bates kelley, robert j. kelley, kathleen kelley bruce, ronald kelley, lindt factory, colgate university, exeter, sean kelley, manchester, brian kelley