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R. Craig Kelley, 72, dies
Sunday, February 28, 2016 - from the USTA Communications Department

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Columbus, OH --- R. Craig Kelley, 72, of rural Alexis, Ill., died Feb. 26, 2016, at St. Mary’s Medical Center, Galesburg.

Mr. Kelley was born April 27, 1943 in Gary, Ind., a son of J. Robert and F. Ruth Craig Kelley. In 1961, he graduated from high school in Merrillville, Ind. He received his Associates in Science, in 1963, from Casper Junior College, Casper, Wyoming. before graduating from Doane College, Crete, Neb. in 1966 with a Bachelor’s in Science.

He was a talented basketball player, playing all through high school and college.

Mr. Kelley started his teaching and coaching career in Oshkosh, Neb., in 1966. In 1968, he attended Adams State College, Alamosa, Colo., where he was a student assistant coach while working towards receiving his Master’s Degree in 1969. He then continued his teaching and coaching at Hibbing Community College, Hibbing, Minn., from 1969-1970. In 1970, he accepted a position as science teacher at Aledo High School. During his time at Aledo, he was head coach of both the boys and girls basketball programs. For many summers, he ran basketball camps and took several fishing trips with students to the boundary waters of Ely, Minn. More than 30 years later, he retired from Aledo High School.

He loved teaching and his students, maintaining many long term friendships with several former students. He was famous for handing out nicknames to his students and his children. He was a member and former president of Aledo Education Association and member of Illinois Education Association.

On Aug. 16, 1980, he married Katherine Hughes in Bettendorf, Iowa. Together, they were proud owners of Kelley’s Finish Line Farm, Alexis. From breeding, to training, to driving, he loved horses. He was a member of the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association and the USTA.

He enjoyed fishing, canoeing and was a Mason. He was an avid sports fan of the Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls, Iowa Hawkeyes and San Antonio Spurs. He was fanatic about anything basketball. His greatest joy was to be surrounded by family and friends.

Mr. Kelley is survived by his wife, Kathy; daughters, Heidi (Kris) Hess and Stacy (Dr. Matthew) Ninan; grandchildren, Ashley (Steve Kilker) Osborn, Bret Wolfram, Rachel Wolfram, Jessica Hess, Sydney Hess, Alyssa Hess, Morgan Blackburn and Jenna Blackburn; three great-grandchildren; and brother, Michael S. (Caryn). He was preceded in death by his parents; and daughter, Kim Wolfram.

Funeral services are at 10:30 a.m. on Friday (March 4) at Dennison Funeral Home, Aledo. Burial will be in Aledo Cemetery. Visitation is Thursday (March 3) from 3–7 p.m. at Dennison Funeral Home, Aledo.

Memorial contributions may be made to Mercer County High School Athletic Boosters or to the family.

Online condolences may be left at

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