Joe E. Kelsey, 86, Columbia City, died at 4:35 a.m. Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at Parkview Regional Medical Center, where he was admitted Sunday.
He was born Nov. 23, 1933, in Whitley County, a son of the late Paul D. Kelsey and Dorothy L. (Oliver) Kelsey. His formative years were spent in Cleveland Twp., Whitley County, and he graduated from South Whitley High School.
Inducted into the U.S. Navy on Nov. 3, 1955, he served aboard the USS Warrick and was honorably discharged Aug. 5, 1957.
He worked for Gripco, South Whitley as a shipping supervisor retiring in 1993 with 43 years of service and also maintained a small family farm and often worked with his father in farming.
He made his home in Columbia Township and in 1956, he was united in marriage to Joan L. Pritchard. Joan died June 30, 1987. On May 28, 1988, he married Cynthia A. Ertel Ruch.
He was a lifetime member of Oak Grove United Methodist Church. He was a leader for more than 50 years in Boy Scouts of America and was involved in local 4-H.
He enjoyed following IU basketball and was a steadfast proponent of the hook-shot. In the summer months, he followed his beloved Cubs baseball. Enjoying the outdoors, he liked to travel and camp in the many state and national parks. In his retirement years, he spent time with his scroll saw making a variety of woodcrafts.
Joe is survived by his wife, Cindy; daughters, Jo (Roger) Hohlbein of Indianapolis and Julie (Mark) Makarewicz of Wayland, Mich.; two sons, Jeffrey (Lisa) Kelsey of Indianapolis and James Kelsey of Lexington, Ky.; a step-son, Jeffrey (Kimberly) Ruch of New Palestine, and a stepdaughter, Dawn (Tom) Ryska of South Bend; grandchildren, Justin and Kyle Makarewicz, Max Kelsey, Alex Murray, Jennifer Ruch, and Jessica Mitchell and a great-granddaughter, Paisley Mitchell.
Additionally, he was preceded in death by three brothers, Dale Kelsey, Keith Kelsey, and Glen “Sam” Kelsey; and two sisters, Joyce Gross and Carol Kyler.
A private family service will be held at Smith and Sons Funeral Home, Columbia City. Burial is at the South Whitley Cemetery. A celebration of life gathering will be held at a later date.
Preferred memorials are to the Boy Scouts of America or the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.