The SIU is mourning the passing of retired Port Agent Ed Kelly, who died of natural causes Feb. 3 in Houston. He was 78.
Kelly, who came from a long line of Seafarers (including his father and five uncles, one of whom was a charter member), began working for the union in 1981. He spent most of his time in Mobile, Alabama, where he served as port agent from 1999 until his retirement in 2007.
“He was a diehard SIU guy – very meticulous, very professional, by the book,” said SIU New Orleans Port Agent Chris Westbrook. “He was a straight shooter and he did his job for the membership. I really liked Ed.”
SIU Senior Political Consultant Terry Turner stated, “Ed’s reliable political instincts regarding our southern Congressional delegation was only surpassed by his love and dedication to the labor movement.”
Despite his family’s history, Kelly took an unusual route into the maritime industry and labor movement. He had been a schoolteacher and was employed as head coach of the track and cross country teams at the University of South Alabama when he opted for a career change and landed a job as an SIU patrolman.
Thinking back on those days, Kelly in 2007 said with a laugh, “At first, I thought, what the heck did I get myself into? But I’ve made friends for life in the SIU. I loved servicing, meeting the members and ‘preaching’ about the SIU. The union became my home and my family.”
In addition to working at the Mobile hall, Kelly at various times was based in Houston, New Orleans, Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was the secretary-treasurer of the Greater Mobile Port Maritime Council (part of the Maritime Trades Department).
A native of Moss Point, Mississippi, Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree from Livingston College (later renamed the University of West Alabama) in 1965. He was an avid golfer, and moved to The Woodlands, Texas, a few years ago.
There will be a private memorial service for family. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.