Kelly did his first solo roof at 14  
Saturday, June 9, 2012

WEBSTER X The owner of a Dudley dairy farm needed a new roof on his barn 40 or so years ago, so he hired a neighborhood fix-it guy, a young Richard Kelly.

It was my first roofing job by myself, Mr. Kelly remembered on a recent morning. It took me quite a while, but I got paid $100.

Then, Mr. Kelly allowed a telling point. I was only 14 years old. Since town street lists say he was born in 1953, the barn roof job was probably a verbal agreement. Teenager Kelly had completed a few minor tasks for the farmer, so there was a confidence level between them.

While the roofing project was a one-person effort, Mr. Kelly had a striker. My kid brother was on the ground raking up the old shingles, he acknowledged.

I put a 20-year roof on that barn, says Mr. Kelly. It's been on there over 40 years, at least twice what its service life was supposed to be.

Checking particulars to the Kelly story brought an awareness of sorts: His independent efforts either fell between cracks in the building codes, especially with regard to age, or town regulations didn't exist.

Whatever, teenager Kelly must have been a talented young man. He went from do-it-alone roofing to house building, helping to construct a four-apartment dwelling in Webster's North Village.

This led to a post-school maintenance job at Stevens Linen Associates. A young man of probably 19, Richard developed a true tradesman's traits, taking care of his carpentry tools when time allowed.

He was sharpening a saw on a lunch break when the owner of McKay Roofing Co. happened along, impressed with Mr. Kelly's attention to detail. This ultimately led to an association with the McKay business, and independent contracting as Kelly & Kelly.

Richard Kelly has built all kinds of buildings, along with additions and repairs, but he recently completed something different: Webster's new animal shelter, doing the work for his sister, Marilyn T. Fels, who, along with her husband, Gerald, donated the facility to the town.

Mr. Kelly enjoys a reputation for good work and honest effort. It helps, he says. I don't even advertise in some of the telephone directories anymore.

Lest all of this interfere with work schedules, Mr. Kelly likes to add occasional customers. He's not hiding his first roofing project, but the barn has been vacant for some years, and it could stand a bit of maintenance. It's not exactly a job sample as it is, he admits. The new animal shelter might be better for show and tell!

It may be a long time before the Webster-Dudley Veterans Council comes up with a Memorial Day parade to match the event staged May 28.

Participation was noteworthy, and sidewalk attendance was great all along the parade route, from assembly between the cemeteries in East Village all the way to East and South Main streets to downtown Webster. Attendance at various points in Dudley was also encouraging, from what we understand.

Though many of the Korean War veterans are still out front and center, the hourslong observance, the bus to services around Dudley, and marching in the parade seem to be taking their toll, judging from some of the comments.

There will always be a note of thanks to all of the veterans, youth groups, municipal organizations and others that make Memorial Day something to remember in Webster and Dudley.

Former Webster Treasurer Dorothy V. Dabrowski and her husband, Richard (who was once active with the Polish American Veterans of Webster and Dudley), moved to Cooperstown, N.Y., some years ago, after they both retired. Others in their family had previously established residency in Baseball's Hall of Fame community, so the pull of family in the Upper New York state area made the move logical.

The Dabrowskis visit from time to time, but May 26, when they shopped for provisions at Dudley Park 'N Shop Supermarket, was our first chance meeting since they left Webster.

Dorothy and Richard were as congenial as ever. The longtime Webster Town Hall officer said they keep up with life left behind through TelegramTowns. My sister (Charlotte Maisto) mails it to us,said Dorothy.

Richard planned to visit with PAV friends at Memorial Day ceremonies.
-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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