Margaret O. Kelly

Posted:  Monday, April 17, 2017 - 3:15pm

Margaret Orne Kelly, 98, died April 3, 2017 in Savannah, Georgia, where she had lived since 1942. 

Born August 4, 1918 in West Boothbay Harbor, Margaret was the daughter of the late Charles Thomas Orne and Inez Monk Orne.  She began walking up Orne’s Hill to the West Harbor school when she had just turned five years old and graduated from Boothbay Harbor High School in 1935. She completed the one year course at the Katherine Gibbs School in Boston a year later, and at age 17 began to support herself.  Though she had never mentioned it, her children were tickled to learn, years later, that she was crowned Miss Boothbay Harbor in the summer of 1938. While working as assistant to a patent lawyer in Boston, she met Verner “Tex” Kelly, then a student at Harvard College. They married and had four children, living for most of their 70 years together in Savannah, except for six years in Madison, New Jersey from 1965 to 1971. 

Margaret was an active volunteer in many organizations in Georgia. She was a Red Cross Nurses Aide during World War II, a curator of the Georgia Historical Society, and a board member of the Savannah Speech and Hearing Association, the Bethesda Home for Boys, the Family Counseling Center, the United Way, the Savannah Foundation, the Savannah Symphony Society, the YWCA, the League of Women Voters, and the Savannah Public Library. For many years she served on the budget committee of the Community Health Council.  She was a past president of the Junior League of Savannah, the Women of the Church at First Presbyterian Church, and the board of the Savannah Home for Girls. For several years she worked alongside her husband Tex as associate director of Environmental Protection of the Union Camp Corporation.

Every summer Margaret brought her children back to her hometown, where she and Tex refurbished an antique cape next door to her parents’ house in the late 1940s. The family cherished their summers there, close to her relatives, walking the same hill her ancestors had walked. Margaret made sure her children enjoyed playing on the shore and in the woods; swimming, rowing, and sailing in the harbor; taking picnics to the outer islands; picking blueberries; and living in a small Maine town, just as she had done. She worked daily in her beautiful gardens and enjoyed furnishing her house with antiques from auctions. She wore out her volume of Jane Austen’s complete works, re-reading it every summer. She loved Maine coon cats, and the family nearly always had one or more. As a young wife, Margaret took up golf, Tex’s passion, and ultimately excelled at it. She was an ace at bridge, which she played avidly until a few years before her death. In retirement, Margaret and Tex enjoyed traveling (often to the sites of her fascination with archaeology), but they continued to invite friends and family from near and far to their Maine home, always gracious hosts.

Margaret was predeceased by her husband, Verner Earl “Tex” Kelly; sons, Thomas Orne Kelly and Richard McCullough Kelly; and brothers, Kenneth S. Orne, Houghton V. Orne, and Charles T. Orne Jr.

She is survived by her daughters, Virginia K. Tison (Henry) of Savannah and Margaret K. Tew (David) of West Boothbay Harbor; 10 grandchildren, Catherine T. Eurell (Charles), Eleanor Tison (Mark Dailey), H. Lawton Tison III (Mary), Virginia T. Coates, John M. Tison, Richard M. Kelly (Lori), Dana R. Kelly (Dave Bullivant), Sarah Tew (Keith Gauger), Alice E. Gifford (Giles), and Alexander S. Tew (Becky); 16 great-grandchildren; and a number of nieces and nephews and their children, including Robert Orne (Joan), Charles T. “Guy” Orne III (Julie), Victor Orne, David Orne (Debbie), and Annette Orne.

The family suggests remembrances to the Boothbay Region Historical Society.

Please sign our online guest book at