Dean Kelley

Dean Maurice Kelley (1926 - 1997)

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Rev Dean Maurice Kelley
Born in Cheyenne, Laramie, Wyoming, USAmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Denver, Denver, Colorado, USAmap
Descendants descendants
Father of [private daughter (1950s - unknown)]
Died in West Swanzey, Cheshire, New Hampshire, USAmap
Profile last modified | Created 2 Oct 2013
This page has been accessed 250 times.



Extensive Biography


Dean was born in 1926. He was the son of Mark Kelley and Irena Lancaster. He passed away in 1997. [1]


Dean Kelley, 70, Advocate for Religious Freedom, Dies By GUSTAV NIEBUHR Published: May 14, 1997 New York Times

The Rev. Dean M. Kelley, a leading proponent of religious liberty who used his position at the National Council of Churches to speak out for the rights of religious groups large and small, died Sunday at his home in West Swanzey, N.H. He was 70.

The cause was cancer, the council said.

Mr. Kelley, a minister in the United Methodist Church, served as the council's executive for religious liberty for 30 years until 1990, during which he filed friend of the court briefs in many church-state cases, testified before Congressional committees on religious freedom issues and defended controversial groups like the Church of Scientology, the Unification Church and others.

After his retirement, Mr. Kelley served as the council's counselor on religious liberty, at one point reviewing Government documents on the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex., by Federal law-enforcement agents, which ended in a fire that killed about 80 members of the religious sect. Mr. Kelley wrote that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been fundamentally mistaken about the Davidians, viewing them as hostages to a cult leader rather than as a band of adults voluntarily and devotedly following a visionary.

The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, the council's general secretary, said Mr. Kelley was a purist who believed that unless you protect the liberty of the least respected among us, the religious freedom of the majority would ultimately be imperiled. It was a passion for him, she said.

A firm believer in the separation of church and state, Mr. Kelley applauded the Senate defeat of a constitutional amendment to permit prayer in public schools in March 1984. There is no way that a public school can arrange for an oral, organized prayer that can be truly nonsectarian, he said.

But a month later, the council parted ways with some of the groups that had fought the amendment when it supported the Equal Access Act, which allowed student-led religious clubs to meet on school property outside of class time. In a letter to The New York Times, Mr. Kelley wrote that the council was equally opposed to a misinterpretation of the First Amendment that suppresses the personal, voluntary, public expression by citizens of their religious faith, wherever they may be.

In 1973, testifying at the trial of one such man, who had been charged with unlawful imprisonment for having tried to help a father rescue his son from a religious group, Mr. Kelley was asked whether he would not be disturbed if his own teen-age daughter had joined the group. Certainly, he replied, but he added that to remove her forcibly would be one of the most severe offenses against religious liberty that I can think of.

Later, when many communities were reacting to the suicide of more than 900 followers of the Rev. Jim Jones in Guyana in 1978 by toughening enforcement of local laws against religious soliciting, Mr. Kelley said, The trouble is, one man's cult is another man's religion.

Mr. Kelley was the author of two books that remain influential in religious circles. One, Why Churches Should Not Pay Taxes (Harper and Row, 1977), is considered essential reading by people who support the tax exemptions of religious organizations, said James Dunn, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs.

In the other, Why Conservative Churches Are Growing (Harper and Row, 1972), Mr. Kelley discussed that trend by asserting that religion should explain the meaning of life in ultimate terms, and that strictness and discipline were what attracted large numbers of people to churches. He noted with regret that he could find no evidence of a thriving, high-demand religious movement devoted to justice, freedom, beauty, respect for others.

Dean Kelley was born on June 1, 1926, in Cheyenne, Wyo. He graduated from Denver University in 1946 and from the Iliff School of Theology, where he received a master's degree in theology, in 1949.

He served churches in Colorado and New York, including Crawford Memorial United Methodist Church in the Bronx, until he joined the council in 1960.

At the council, Mr. Kelley organized special conferences on church-state relations, tax law and churches, and government intervention in religious affairs. Dr. Campbell said Mr. Kelley also served as the council's staff member on its evangelism committee.

Mr. Kelley married the former Maryon Hoyle on June 8, 1946, in Denver. Besides his wife he is survived by a daughter, Lenore Wadsworth of West Swanzey, and a grandson.


  • 1930 United States Federal Census
Name Dean M Kelley
Age in 1930 3
Birth Year abt 1927
Gender Male
Race White
Birthplace Wyoming
Marital Status Single
Relation to Head of House Son
Home in 1930 Cheyenne, Laramie, Wyoming
Map of Home Cheyenne, Laramie, Wyoming
Street Address East Twentieth Street
Ward of City Part Of Ward 2
House Number in Cities or Towns 710
Dwelling Number 98
Family Number 120
Attended School No
Father's Birthplace California
Mother's Birthplace Iowa
Household Members Name Age
Mark M Kelley 48
Irena M Kelley 41
Dean M Kelley 3

1940 United States Federal Census

Name Dean Kelley
Age 13
Estimated Birth Year abt 1927
Gender Male
Race White
Birthplace Wyoming
Marital Status Single
Relation to Head of House Son
Map of Home in 1940 Cheyenne, Laramie, Wyoming
Street 20th Street
House Number 710
Inferred Residence in 1935 Cheyenne, Laramie, Wyoming
Residence in 1935 Same House
Sheet Number 2A
Attended School or College Yes
Highest Grade Completed Elementary school, 8th grade
Household Members Name Age
Mark M Kelley 58
Irena Kelley 52
Dean Kelley 13
Dexter Kelley 9

U.S. Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 2

Name Dean M Kelley
Birth Date 1 Jun 1926
Address West Swanzey, NH - 03469

U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007

Name Dean Maurice Kelley
Father Mark M Kelley
Mother Irena M Lancaster
Birth 1 Jun 1926 - Cheyenne Lar, Wyoming
Death 11 May 1997
SSN 126305390
Gender Male
Race White

U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current

Name Dean Maurice Kelley
Birth Date 1 Jun 1926
Birth Place Cheyenne, Laramie County, Wyoming, USA
Death Date 11 May 1997
Death Place West Swanzey, Cheshire County, New Hampshire, USA
Cemetery Oak Hill Cemetery
Burial or Cremation Place West Swanzey, Cheshire County, New Hampshire, USA
Has Bio? Y
Spouse Maryon Kelley

New York Times' Obituary

New York Times Obituary


  1. Entered by Seán Sloane Johnson, Wednesday, October 2, 2013.


Thank you to Seán Sloane Johnson for creating Kelley-1659 on 2 Oct 13. Click the Changes tab for the details on contributions by Seán and others.

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Dean by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Dean:

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Images: 3
Dexter, Mark & Dean Kelley at home in Cheyenne, WY
Dexter, Mark & Dean Kelley at home in Cheyenne, WY

Dean Maurice Kelly
Dean Maurice Kelly

Dean, Maryon and Lenore Kelley
Dean, Maryon and Lenore Kelley

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Dean is 18 degrees from Jim Angelo, 16 degrees from Willis Carrier and 17 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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Categories: Oak Hill Cemetery, West Swanzey, New Hampshire