1933 - 2022
A CELEBRATION OF LIFE WILL BE HELD
JUNE 23, 2022, 4-7 P.M.
AT THE HAWAI‘I CONVENTION CENTER.
Richard Roy Kelley passed peacefully in his Denver home at the age of 88.
Born in the Territory of Hawai'i to entrepreneurial parents, Roy and Estelle Kelley, he was raised in Waikiki and spent his after-school hours helping the fledgling family hotel business by hauling luggage up five flights of stairs, serving pineapple juice to guests, and balancing accounts into the wee hours.
The World War II attack on Pearl Harbor greatly disrupted his early childhood and the family spent several years in California waiting out the war.
After graduating from Punahou School, Stanford University, and Harvard Medical School, he returned to Hawai'i with his own young family to practice medicine in the pathology department of The Queen's Hospital. But his career was suddenly redirected when his father asked him to "temporarily" help out "part time" during a period of rapid hotel construction in the 1960s. It turned out that the hospitality industry suited him well, and as his parents eased into retirement, he picked up the reins of the family business. Over the next four decades, he grew the business into an international culture and values-based global hospitality company, Outrigger Enterprises Group.
Dr. Kelley experienced the transition of Hawai'i's economy from agriculture to tourism. As a visionary, he worked tirelessly to improve Hawai'i's hospitality industry making it beneficial to all. He was often heard repeating his mantra, "In Hawai'i, Tourism Is Everybody's Business." His years of unflagging leadership throughout the community led to many positive changes, including the creation of the Hawai'i Convention Center. At the grand opening he was officially recognized and honored as the "Father of the Hawai'i Convention Center."
Always a prolific writer, Richard recently completed and published Paddling the Outrigger: Inspiration and Insights From the Journey of a Lifetime, a partially autobiographical work that includes many of the newsletter articles that he wrote on a wide range of topics.
Outside of the visitor industry he was a strong proponent of education, technology, and health care. He served as a director of numerous public and private organizations in Hawai'i, Colorado and internationally. He had a natural love of, and gift for, teaching at all levels, be it drilling his young children on Latin while driving to school or teaching pathology to medical students.
He was an all-around sportsman who enjoyed the outdoors including golfing, hunting, surfing, sailing and fishing. He once won an award for the smallest fish caught in a billfish tournament.
Richard was deeply loved by his large family. He always put family first and was never too busy to drop what he was doing and personally connect, even if in the middle of a business meeting.
All who knew Richard will remember his warm personality, intelligence, innate leadership skills, and enthusiasm for solving a problem no matter how big or small.
He is survived by his wife Linda V. Kelley, sister Jean Rolles, seven children: Kathryn Carey (David), Dr. Chuck Kelley (Jenny), Linda Jane Kelley, Elizabeth "Bitsy" Kelley (Greg), Colleen Kelley Heyer (Judd), Christopher Kelley, Anne Marie Kelley Brown (Matt), 15 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his first wife, Jane Zieber Kelley, and his sister Patricia Kelley.
The family asks in lieu of gifts, please consider a contribution toward establishing the Dr. Richard R.Kelley Endowed Scholarship for Hospitality and Tourism at Kapi'olani Community College. Link: https://uhfoundation.org/RichardKelleyScholarship
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased