Joseph John Kelly

Joseph John Kelly

June 01, 1918 - May 01, 2018
Laguna Woods CA

Joseph John Kelly

June 01, 1918 - May 01, 2018
Laguna Woods CA


Joseph John Kelly
6/1/1918 – 5/1/2018

Kelly, Joseph John, age 99, Col., U.S.M.C. Ret., former chief of police in both Laguna Beach and Tustin, Calif., passed away May 1, 2018 in Laguna Woods, Calif.

He was a long-time resident of Laguna Woods and had been an active member of St. Nicholas Catholic Church there since 1970, serving alternately as a lector, member of the parish advisory council and guest speaker in the school of religion program. His Catholic faith was at the heart of everything he did. As he wrote in a talk to a class at St. Nicholas, “Whatever success I may have achieved has been with God’s help. Without Him, I’d be nothing.”

Joe was born June 1, 1918, in the Bronx, N.Y., the son of Joseph Francis and Selma Kelly. He attended Fordham Prep in the Bronx and graduated in February, 1935 at age 16.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Joe enlisted in the Marines in January, 1942, beginning a 28 year career with the Marines in reserve and active duty, both in enlisted and officer’s positions.

He married the former Patricia Ann O’Connor, on Sept. 5, 1942. They were married 57 years, raising a family of nine children.

By January, 1944, he had risen through the ranks and was chosen to attend the Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Va., leading to his commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve. He served as a communications officer on Guam, Tinian and Saipan in WWII. He was stationed on Tinian when the Enola Gay took off to drop the first atomic bomb on Japan. In 1946, he returned to civilian life, and became a New York City police officer while remaining active in the Marine Corps Reserve.

With the start of the Korean War, Joe went back on active duty in the Marines, earning a regular commission in 1951. He changed his specialty from communications to infantry and served as a military policeman as well. Years later, he became Provost Marshal at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va., where he also attended the FBI National Academy in 1965. He completed a tour in Vietnam in 1967, where he was executive officer of the 9th Marine Regiment for eight months.  On his return, he was assigned as Provost Marshal at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Joe retired as a colonel in 1970, moving first to El Toro, Calif., and then to Laguna Woods. He took on new roles working for a private security company, and then as police chief in Laguna Beach (1971-73) and Tustin (1973-1977). He earned a master’s degree in public administration from California State University, Fullerton, and worked as a crime prevention consultant for the Orange County Criminal Justice Council, finally retiring on June 1, 1980.

Joe was preceded in death by one son, Kevin (1971), his wife Patricia (1999) and older sister, Regina Kelly, (2004).

Joe is survived by sons Michael Kelly (Mary) of Scottsdale, Ariz.; John Kelly (Graciela) of Cecilia, Ky.; Brian Kelly (Suzanne) of Plano, Tex.; Dennis Kelly (Patricia) of Manassas, Va.; daughters Patricia Rueb of Phoenix, Ariz.; Mary Locke (Jim) of Mission Viejo, Calif.; son Brendan Kelly (Lisa) of Charlotte, N.C.; and daughter Kathleen Overton (Steve) of Modesto, Calif. Kelly also has 18 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.

Visitation will be held at 7:00 P.M., May 5th at O’Connor Mortuary, 25301 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills, Calif. A funeral Mass is scheduled at 9 A.M., May 7th at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, 24252 El Toro Rd, Laguna Woods, Calif., followed immediately by burial at Ascension Cemetery, 24754 Trabuco Road, Lake Forest, Calif.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to:
Society of St. Vincent de Paul — (Please make check payable to ST. VINCENT DE PAUL)
Saint Nicholas Parish Conference
24252 El Toro Road
Laguna Woods, CA 92637


Vigil Service

  • Date & Time: May 5, 2018 (7:00 PM)
  • Venue: O'Connor Mortuary
  • Location: 25301 Alicia Parkway Laguna Hills, CA 92653 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (949) 581-4300

Funeral Mass

  • Date & Time: May 7, 2018 (9:00 AM)
  • Venue: St. Nicholas Catholic Church
  • Location: 24252 El Toro Rd. Laguna Woods, CA 92637 - (Get Directions)

Graveside Service

  • Date & Time: May 7, 2018 (10:30 AM)
  • Venue: Ascension Cemetery
  • Location: 24754 Trabuco Road Lake Forest, CA 92630 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (949) 837-1331

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25 responses to Joseph John Kelly

  1. John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,

    May your everlasting candle burn brightly in those lives of your family, your friends, your police family at Tustin and Laguna Beach and the Marine Corps.

    Semper Fidelis Colonel


  3. Susan Adams says:

    I was Chief Kelly’s Assistant while he was Chief of Tustin. He was the finest man in my lifetime. He was hard working, dedicated, and had more integrity and honesty than anyone. It was a great honor to work for him and he will be missed. Rest in Peace Dear Chief.

  4. Col,
    Loving and missing you, always. May you sleep with the angels in your well deserved rest. Semper Fi

  5. God is getting a very special man. Semper Fi !

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