Obituary: Dennis C. Kelley (1945-2023)

Dennis C. Kelley, 78, of Portsmouth, RI, died peacefully and surrounded by family, following a brief illness on September 28th at Rhode Island Hospital.

Dennis was born in Newport, RI on January 18, 1945 to the late Mortimer Dennis and Rita Furze Kelley. He was the loving husband of Mary Morris Kelley, to whom he was married for 42 years. He was also the devoted stepfather of David N. Perrotti and Kate Perrotti Rasmussen, and the beloved Grandpa D. to Rex Rasmussen.

Dennis was a proud Newporter, despite his near 40 years as a Portsmouth resident. He fulfilled his lifelong dream of opening his own bookstore in 1995, D. Kelley Fine Used Books, on Broadway in Newport. He successfully owned and operated his store for over 20 years. Upon closing, he soon realized that he missed the camaraderie of serving his customers and working with antiquarian books. Fortunately, he was able to return to work part-time at Commonwealth Books on Touro St. in Newport.

He was previously employed by McKesson Corp. and Providence Wholesale Company, and also worked in his younger years at a residential camp for boys in Florida, and later at St. Vincent’s Home in Fall River.

For over a decade Dennis served as a board member for the East Bay Community Action Program (EBCAP). He was also a 35 year member of several local support groups, which greatly enhanced his life. In gratitude, he freely offered his support to others.

He attended St. Joseph’s Grammar School and was a 1963 graduate of Rogers High School. He went on to study at both Scranton and Suffolk Universities. In his youth, he was a charter member of the Park Holm Boys Club where he was later named “Boy of the Year.”

Dennis was a curious, generous, and well-informed person. He was well respected by his former customers and other booksellers for his honesty and integrity. He was a self-described “political junkie” who valued his citizenship. He maintained his long held desire for the progression of social justice and equality for everyone.

Dennis is survived by his much-loved wife Mary, stepson David and daughter-in-law Joy Loflin Perrotti of Oakland, CA, stepdaughter Kate, son-in-law Eric Rasmussen and grandson Rex Rasmussen of Bristol, RI. He also leaves his dear sister Sheila Kelley Varkonyi of Wakefield, RI, his devoted nephew Michael Varkonyi (Elise) of Cranston, RI, sisters-in-law Helen Morris and Kathleen Almanzor (Beth Pinto) of Newport, RI. Additionally, he leaves his nieces and nephews, Siobhan Kelley Warren, Stephen Kelley, Anne Morgan Mahoney, John Almanzor, and Elizabeth Almanzor, as well as several great nieces and nephews, Lucy Leavy Fleet, Kaen Colinsky, Micheal Warren, Liam Warren, Elizabeth Varkonyi, and Julia Varkonyi.

In addition to his parents, Dennis was predeceased by his brother, Stephen M. Kelley, lost at sea in 1976. He was also the nephew of the late Sister Marjorie Furze, DHS.

Calling hours will be held at Memorial Funeral Home on Broadway in Newport on Tuesday, October 3rd from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM. A graveside service will be held on Wednesday, October 4th at 12:00 PM at St. Columba’s Cemetery in Middletown.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the East Bay Community Action Program.




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