By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
OTTAWA, O. — Eileen Kelley, 1926 – 1999, a Leipsic native who ran an insurance agency and had a flourishing writing career on the side, died Thursday at the Putnam Acres Nursing Home here. She was 73.
The cause of death was cancer, her friend Norma Meyer said.
Ms. Kelley was born in 1926 to Thomas and Nellie Kelley and lived in Leipsic all her life. After graduating from Leipsic High School, she went to work for the family business.
The Kelley Insurance Agency had been founded by her grandfather and been passed to her aunt, Ms. Meyer said. After a few years, Ms. Kelley bought the business from her aunt.
She sold home, auto, and liability insurance, said Ms. Meyer, who worked at the agency for about 25 years. About 10 years ago, Ms. Kelley sold the business, which was merged into the Fawcett-Lammon-Recker Insurance Agency.
But throughout her years in the insurance business, Ms. Kelley spent her nights and weekends following her hobby, writing. Over nearly three decades, she wrote more than 70 articles for The Blade as a freelance writer, as well as many poems, short stories, and an unpublished novel.
She wrote in a variety of styles, but her Blade articles were mostly folksy humor about small-town life. In one 1975 article, she wrote about getting her house painted an ungainly shade of pink and how she went about convincing neighbors that the color really wasn’t that offensive.
To the neighborhood’s best cook, she calls the color “Creole Coral” and says it resembles her Shrimp Surprise. To the local rock guitarist, she sells the color as “Electric Carnation,” to which the young man replies: “Cool, man.”
To the fisherman, it’s “Spawning Salmon,” to the druggist, “Calamine Carmine,” and to an elderly man, it’s “Victorian Rose.”
Finally, after convincing the entire neighborhood, and “with two flaming sunsets visible, the sun in the west, and my house in the east,” she retires indoors. “The nicest thing about living in a pink house is that usually you’re inside it.”
Ms. Meyer said that Ms. Kelley used her writing talents to create “cute little advertisements for the agency to put in the local papers. I don’t know if they ever got us customers, but they got talked about.”
Before she died, Ms. Kelley compiled some of her favorite poems into a booklet, which Ms. Meyer put together. The booklet will be distributed at her funeral, Ms. Meyer said.
She was active in local writing groups, including the Lima Area Writers’ Club, of which she was vice president and in whose contests she won several awards.
Ms. Kelley never married, was an only child, and had no immediate survivors.
Visitation will be today from 2 to 9 p.m. at Love Funeral Home, Leipsic. A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow, at St. Mary Catholic Church.
Tributes may be made to the church school or Putnam County Hospice.