Hole left in the heart of the Dolphin family



Over a hundred people came out to 24th Street on Sept. 19, 2021, to pay tribute to John Kelly, who was a lifeguard for Virginia Beach.

At the dawn of the school year, late August, John Kelly, a beloved English teacher, passed unexpectedly.

Ask any student who studied English under Kelly’s brilliance, you will get a similar response.

“He was one of the funniest, smartest, most clever, helpful, and well-rounded teachers I have ever had,”  said alumna Harley Middleton, class of 2019.

A memorial service was held on Sat., Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. at the Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Virginia Beach, VA, followed by a reception at Back Bay Brewery. Family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of a man who was a teacher, professor, coach, basketball player, mentor, Marine, and lifeguard. 

“I think that John liked being in the water more than anywhere else. He loved teaching people about beach safety and water safety. Especially younger people. Body surfing was his passion. He competed in national competitions in California and body surfed all over the country. Anytime we had a national lifeguard championship, he was there all day, every day, helping us set up the course. As long as he could be in the water, he didn’t care,” said Gary Felch, good friend, fellow teacher and lifeguard.

According to Felch, Kelly had a wealth of knowledge about English, basketball, the ocean. People loved talking to him.

“John left the world a better place — he had done good deeds, saved lives, raised two beautiful children, and made others happy. John was objective and reflective. He valued and learned from others, always treated others fairly and respectfully. John dared to stand up for what he believed in and to do the right thing. He was a good man and will be missed,” said Principal Dr. Claire LeBlanc.

His obituary, written by his brother, boasts of his many talents and can be found at https://www.northjersey.com/obituaries/ber098097.

On Sun., Sept. 19, at 8 a.m. a paddle out at 24th Street was held in his honor.

“It’s rare to find a teacher like that who goes above and beyond to connect with their students and keep up with them. His legacy is one that will live on forever,” said Middleton. “It makes me realize I should keep in touch more with the teachers I actually cared about.”