Beta Omicron Chapter founding member remembered at celebration of life

The legacy of Robert F. Kelley, a chartering member of the Beta Omicron Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi was celebrated by family, friends, and fraternity brothers on Friday, December 8, 2017.

Kelley passed away in June at his Palm Desert, California home at the age of 82. A 1958 graduate of Northwestern State University, Kelley went on to build a highly successful career as managing partner of accounting firm Arthur Andersen. Read more about his life and professional accomplishments, here.

More than two dozen people gathered for a celebration of life and memorial at Merci Beaucoup Restaurant, which has been host to numerous Pi Kappa Phi alumni events over the years.

Several Beta Omicron Chapter chartering members shared reflections on Kelley’s life. Fellow founding members Charles Bice, Mickey Murphy, Billy Plunkett, and Charles Varnell gave tributes about his selfless character, optimism, and passion. They also shared humorous anecdotes about growing up in Winnfield, adventures at Northwestern State, and friendship after college. 1957 Rose Queen Sylvia Murphy told the story of Kelley rallying members of the fraternity to visit her in the infirmary when she fell ill with the measles as a student.

Dr. Chris Maggio, President of NSU, recalled Kelley’s induction into the Long Purple Line in 1998 and his tireless support of his alma mater. Alumni Chapter President Lane Luckie spoke about the example Kelley set for lifelong dedication to brotherhood in Pi Kappa Phi.

Robert Kelley, Junior also reflected on his father’s life, sharing how his presence is still felt. At Thanksgiving, they came across a book of the elder Kelley’s favorite poems by Robert Browning. He reflected on his father’s outlook on life, one of optimism.

“Dad did not believe in regret. He did believe in transition. With each step, each year, each though, he remained eternally optimistic about everything. He never complained about anyone or anything. His curiosity was never quenched. His relationships grew stronger. And he continued to bask in the Sun. He loved the Sun, not just for its light, its heat, or its power of renewal. He believed the Sun was symbolic of his spirit. Though his Sun may have set, I am confident that his spirit is risen again. His Sun sets to rise again.”

Kelley is survived by his wife Nancy and two sons, Robert Kelley, Jr. and Clayton Kelley.

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