Monday, February 8, 2010

In Memory of Kathy Kelley 1948-1964

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One of the sweetest and most intelligent people I have ever known. She was destined for great things. Kathy would have graduated with the Burbank High class of 1966. Sadly she was struck by a drunk driver as she was crossing the street in front of BHS in 1964 and passed away a few days later. Bless her soul and family.

Kathy Kelly lived on my street in Burbank as we grew up. We kind of became boyfriend and girlfriend for a short time (you know how those things went at that age) when we were at Muir but she was a grade ahead. Probably my first awaking to girls which has been my downfall ever since – ha-ha. She was so much more wise then I, beyond her years. Smart and beautiful, and I, a young fool.

Yes (although still at Muir 9th grade) I happened to be hitch hiking to Glendale in front of BHS with Jim Burnham when the car threw all the girls into the air. I don’t know but somehow believe the Lord put me there for a reason, it baffles me to this day. The only other time that I have had that sense that the Lord was surrounding me and or the situation was when my father passed away. I ran to Kathy and cradled her head while Jim watched the drunk guy and his 55 Oldsmobile (what a tank of a car). Kathy’s mom leaped from her car a few feet away. Bruce Fossler my old friend from the same neighborhood appeared (he was in Kathy’s class) and ran to call for help. At first they told us she just had a broken leg but not long after she passed of a brain aneurism or something to that effect. There were at least two other girls, I did not know, that were struck. I recall one had landed up against the curb and her face was covered in blood. I never heard of or recall their status afterwards but I believe they both recovered.

I know I am biased, but honestly, Kathy was something special and would have made all of us proud to have been associated with her.

What a heart break for her family.

I thought that I would respond to Mark's comments on Kathy since I also knew her pretty well. First of all she lived on my street before she moved to Mark's street in around 1961. So, I lived near her for about ten years. Our families were quite close, so we kept in touch until after Kathy's death. He said that she was quite smart and I agreed with this. I remember she would ask me questions on certain boys that she liked on what I knew about them. She liked some boy named Lee around 1960 or 1961. Our TV broke one week, and my mother asked Mrs. Kelly if I could watch Ozzie & Harriet and Donna Reed at their house. She said that would be OK, since Kathy watched it also, so we watched it together one Wednesday or Thursday night. I always thought Kathy had class, and with her brains would turn into a person of importance in the future. She would have been someone like Jackie Kennedy, very beautiful and talented.

We called the Kelly family the next day after Kathy was hit by the car to find out how she was doing and was shocked to hear from her grandmother that she had passed away. We were told of the details and I have a different spin on things. She was hit walking accross the street in the cross walk to meet her mother who would always drive her home in her white 1959 Ford. Kathy was alert and seemed not that bad after the accident, and was talking to her mother. She apparently hit her head when the car threw her in the air, and suffered what the actress Natasha Richardson did in her ski accident last year. The family was quite upset that the doctors did not realize this until it was too late since the proper treatment
could have saved her. Her mother took it quite hard and refused to drive after this and the family had to move out of their Keystone Street home because it reminded them of Kathy. Kathy lived in the room addition with the bedroom on the second floor over looking the back yard. We ran into her mother at Von's in around 1966, and she seemed in good spirts. I guess she started to drive again. When we were kids, Kathy's mother would drive us to the park or where ever we wanted to go, since her family had two cars.

I did not know many people of my class knew Kathy since she was older and one grade ahead.

Kathy Kelley, (yes it is spelled with a second "e", Kelley), was the older sister of Tom Kelley, who is in my 1970 class. I remember this story. I don't think I ever knew that two other girls were also hit when Kathy was killed. She was crossing in a crosswalk at Glenoaks and Grinnell after school to go across the street to where her mother was parked and waiting for her. I remember that her mother saw the incident happen, and was never the same for the rest of her life. Later, after Tom finished at BHS in 1970 the parents moved to New Mexico in the 70's. I don't think their father ever fully recovered either after Kathy's death. I believe both of them have passed away. Tom and our friend, Dave Phinney, also BHS '70, went on an African safari together in the 70's. Also on that trip in their group was a young lady from Tasmania (Australia) that Tom and Dave met and got to know. That young lady and Tom Kelley later married. They lived here, and Tom was an Air Traffic Controller until 1981 when President Reagan "re-configured" the Air Traffic Controllers. After that they moved to Tasmania where they have now lived for over 25 years, raised their children, and where Tom has worked for the Forestry Dept./Forest Ranger for all these years. In 1990 he came to the 20 year reunion for the 1970 class, and may attend our 40 year reunion this June.

When the Kelleys moved from Keystone they moved to 848 Birmingham, where they lived while Tom went through Muir and BHS from 1964 to 1970. Tom went to Horace Mann while they lived on Keystone, and not Jefferson which Birmingham kids attended. Tom was the only other child besides Kathy. Tom was also very smart in school, and rather reserved and quiet. He is about 6'4", and played Varsity Basketball for Coach Loutensock while at BHS.

February 9, 2010 UPDATE

I last saw Kathy Kellley on the day of the accident. She was one of the neighborhood kids and for a time was Mark Littleton's girlfriend. I was there on the day of the accident. In fact, I was waiting for her to ask for a ride home. I saw Kathy, but she was with two other girls and I was too embarrassed to ask for a ride. I was standing outside the gym against the wall. They continue to walk down the street. It began to rain and I decided to catch them and ask for a ride home. I saw the girls crossing the street. Then it happened. Bodies flew everywhere. I still remember seeing Kathy's mom getting out of her car and Mark Littleton holding Kathy. He looked up at me and he said, "It's Kathy Kelley". She laid in the middle of the street. Another girl, Barbara Woods, was covered in blood. She had hit the curb. I was in shock. I still can see those girls flying through the air. It was a moment that will forever been with me.

Just a response.

Bruce Fossler
Class of 66

PS Would like to hear from my classmates. Please email me at

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February 28, 2010 UPDATE

Today was copied on an email exchange between Mark Littleton and Tom Kelley, Kathy's brother and have posted it below:

Hi Tom – This is Mark Littleton. We used to live together on Keystone St in Burbank back in the 60’s. I happened to be looking at a Burbank High School blog, particularily related to memorials of those in the class of 67 that have passed away and it brought back memories of your sister Kathy to me. I was drawn to add my own little memorial to Kathy on my site at Well Cathy Palmer picked up on it (she is the one that so diligently keeps her Burbank High blog so current) and she wrote me for more information. I am forwarding recent communications that have transpired and if you scroll down to the bottom of this email and work your way back up to this note you will see what has transpired. Anyway, Cathy was going to set up a memorial to your sister Kathy on a couple of her blogs and we were lacking the dates of Kathy’s birth and passing. Wondering if you might recall. You may want to write a bit about Kathy and your family as well so Cathy Palmer could add that to the memorial.

God Bless Tom

Praying all is well with you and yours.

Mark Littleton


Hi Mark,

Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. I want to thank you (and Mike) for all the nice things you said about Kathy. She was a lovely person and I often wonder what she would have done with her life, where would she be now, if the accident had not happened. I remember you of course living about half way down the block and across the street on Keystone. I also remember Mike Justl and his family from when we lived on Meyers St before moving to Keystone. In elementary school I was good friends with Mike's younger brothers, David and Dick. Your recollection of the accident seems to agree pretty well to mine, although I either forgot or never knew that you were there at the scene. There seems to be reference to three girls, but I thought there was only one other involved - her name was Mary Wood, she was Kathy's best friend and she was ok as far as I know.

Kathy was born in Glendale on July 1, 1948. Her death was on April 1, 1964.

Kind regards,


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