John Richard Kelley, 45


John Richard Kelley, 45, passed away April 23 at Cedar Community in West Bend.

A celebration of John's life is scheduled Saturday, April 28, at Phillip Funeral Home, 1420 W. Paradise Drive, West Bend, with visitation at 2:30 p.m.; celebration at 3 p.m.; and a luncheon to follow.

John was born Sept. 28, 1966, in Friendship, the son of John and Nancy (Cummings) Kelley. He graduated from Adams-Friendship High School, played drums, guitar and keyboard, and enjoyed camping, fishing and creating artwork for family and friends.

He graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and for 17 years John taught art to children in the Slinger School District. Outside the classroom, John coached e l e m e n t a r y - l eve l Destination Imagination, a youth program to promote creative thinking. A half dozen of the groups traveled to the DI Global Finals competitions over the years.

After appearing to suffer a stroke, he was diagnosed on Mother’s Day 2011 with glioblastoma multiforme, a type of cancer that attacks only the brain. The tumor paralyzed his left side and impaired him in other ways. Doctors doubted he would leave the hospital. John persevered for another 11 months, undergoing surgery, targeted radiation, traditional chemotherapy and Avastin, a newer treatment. He succumbed only after other complications weakened his body beyond what his strong will demanded of it.

John received extraordinary care from the ever attentive, around the-clock staff at Cedar Community. A battery of doctors also did their best, including oncologist Thomas Zukowsky; neuro oncologist Jennifer Connelly; primary physician Paul Bullis; and many additional consulting specialists at Froedtert Lutheran and St. Luke's hospitals, Vince Lombardi Cancer Center, and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

At the start of each treatment, a new doctor always asked John the same standard questions, including this one: Do you have any children? John always answered, “None of my own. But about 500 at Addison Elementary School.”

John Kelley is survived by his parents, John and Nancy, of Friendship; a brother, Tim, and wife Cathy Fleming, of Mc-Farland; a sister, Jean (Dan) Kelley Pataska, of La Crosse; a nephew, Max Kelley, also of La Crosse; and extended family and longtime friends including Christopher Holt, of Allenton.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents, John and Anita Kelley and James and Agnes Cummings; uncles Donald, Harold, James, John, Robert and William Cummings, and Frank Cole; aunts Ann Kelley and Agnes Stephens; and cousins Andrea, Dale and Steven Cummings.

In lieu of flowers, please consider memorials to the Slinger Schools Scholarship Fund or donate to American Cancer Society Brain Cancer Research.

The Phillip Funeral Home of Slinger is assisting the family;. (262) 644-5296 and www.phillipfuneralhome.com.