Barbara (Vant) Kelly

Mrs. Barbara V. Kelly, 96, of Pyrites, New York died peacefully at her home, where she was in the company of her loving family and beloved caregiver on Saturday, December 26, 2020.

Barbara was born September 26, 1924 in Fulton, New York, the daughter of Fred and Gladys Vant. After graduating from Fulton High School in 1942, she attended and graduated from SUNY Oswego in 1946. She began her career in teaching with kindergarten students in Camden, New York and continued at Mexico Academy from 1947 to 1952. Barbara married James J. Kelly, an army veteran, teacher and dairy farmer on January 15, 1953 at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Pyrites with Rev. Whittaker, celebrating. The couple shared 61 years of marriage. Jim predeceased her in 2014. For the next 35 years she taught at Knox-Memorial in Russell until her retirement in 1989.

As a teacher she was able to touch the lives of many, in ways that influenced, inspired and showed kindness, joy, love and happiness to so many in the community. Barbara, our beloved sister and aunt will be deeply missed by all. Her welcoming spirit always made you feel special and she delighted in helping others. She was a natural born teacher at heart, caring deeply for each and every child that she taught in her many kindergarten classes. Her grace and light will undoubtedly shine bright through all of the wonderful people she encountered.

May we all find peace and joy in our hearts having shared time in her life and be encouraged to reach out to help others in any way we can and carry on her legacy.

Barbara was a communicant of St. Mary’s Church of Canton; she was a loyal member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), the St. Lawrence County Historical Association and Canton Garden Club. She was an avid reader, wonderful baker and cook, superb and talented seamstress, quilter and gardener. Her continued love of learning was a natural part of her spirit and soul, always wanting to share it with others. She and Jim were members of the Cosmopolitan Club of Watertown and Patrons of the Arts, enjoying the Syracuse Symphony, the Mayors Ball, opera, local Broadway shows and Boldt Castle events. She and Jim loved to dance; they danced a million miles magically on many dance floors.

Barbara is survived by her two sisters, Phyllis McKallip of Vero Beach, FL and East Hampton, NY; Marilyn Datz of Fulton, nieces and nephews, F. Michael McKenney, Marilyn (Bill) Bartholomew, Seth Datz, Todd (Sheila) Datz, Craig (Paula) Datz, Susan and Scott McKallip.

Barbara was predeceased by a sister, Donna McKenney in 1994, a brother-in-law Leo Kelly in 2002 and a sister-in-law Dorothy Kelly in 1998.

A very heartfelt thank you to Dusty Bowman, Barbara’s caregiver of 10 years, for her loving kindness and devoted care.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial gifts in her memory be made to: Hospice and Palliative Care; 6805 US Highway 11, Potsdam, NY  13676; St. Mary’s Church; 68 Court Street,  Canton, NY  13617; Potsdam Animal Shelter; 17 Madrid Avenue, Potsdam, NY 13676 or to a charity of one’s choice.

Due to concerns associated with the current pandemic, graveside services will be held privately with a Memorial Mass and Celebration of her life to be scheduled for summer.

Memories and condolences are encouraged online at Arrangements for Mrs. Barbara V. Kelly are under the care of the O’Leary Funeral Service of Canton.

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