Sept. 1, 1916 — July 15, 2012
Josephine Kelsay, a resident of Stanislaus County for 88 years, died on Sunday, July 15, at her home in Oakdale surrounded by her loving family. Mrs. Kelsay was born on Sept. 1, 1916, in Muddy, Ill., the youngest daughter of six children of Morris and Benedetta Pitti. She and her family resided in Carlinville, Ill., until she was 8 years old when they moved to Stanislaus County where she attended Modesto area schools. Mrs. Kelsay started high school in Modesto, but transferred to Oakdale at the beginning of her junior year.
Upon her arrival at Oakdale High School, Mrs. Kelsay was escorted to her locker by the school’s 22-year-old janitor, Dan Kelsay, who on October 1, 1933, became her husband and the love of her life for 72 years.
Mrs. Kelsay loved being a wife and a mother. When Dan Kelsay began a career in law enforcement, she was a huge support. When he ran for County Sheriff in 1950, Mrs. Kelsay was a remarkable asset. She had the uncanny ability to both remember the name of every person she met and every conversation she had with them. She was vivacious and naturally interested in the people she met, a perfect match for Dan Kelsay’s reserve. Mrs. Kelsay was always active and nearby in her children’s lives, serving as school secretary in the Patterson schools they attended.
When her children were completing their education, Mrs. Kelsay became a re-entry student, graduating from Modesto Junior College and Stanislaus State majoring in Spanish and education. After graduating, she taught at Shackelford School in Modesto, served as the credentials evaluator at the County Superintendent of Schools Office, and then completed her career in 1975 as the Director of Federal-State Projects for Patterson Unified School District.
Mrs. Kelsay had a life-long love for the Mexican people and their culture. She and a language professor from the University of Colorado started a school in Durango, Mexico, where she spent many summers teaching both Spanish and English. She and her husband, Dan, enjoyed their later years traveling to Alamos, Mexico, where they spent many months at a time visiting friends in the village.
Mrs. Kelsay loved the written word and spent a lifetime writing verse, often humorously about her love for Dan. Her mind was always active and her wit acute to the end. She was proud of her family and adored them all.
In later years, Mrs. Kelsay lost most of her vision yet continued an active life without complaint. She relished her independence and could be seen walking a mile and a half to the grocery store until very recently. As she lived, she died with grace and dignity.
Mrs. Kelsay is survived by her four children, Emily Hartvickson and husband, Elvern, Daniel Kelsay, and wife, June, William Kelsay and wife, Claire and Anne Jensen and husband, Carl; eight grandchildren, Michael, Lisa, and Marcie Perazzetti, Anne Kelsay Gutierrez, Daniel Kelsay, Carl, John, and Carrie Jensen, 10 great-grandchildren, and numerous loving nieces and nephews.
The funeral service will be at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, 1225 Olive St., Oakdale at 11 a.m. on Friday July 20. Burial will be at the Oakdale Citizen’s Cemetery. Visitation will be observed at the Oakdale Memorial Chapel, 830 West F St., Oakdale, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 19, with the recitation of the rosary immediately following.
Memorial contributions in Mrs. Kelsay’s name may be sent to Saint Mary’s Catholic Church or Modesto Community Hospice.