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Margaret Kelly, 91; Princess Grace's Mother, Head of Influential Family

January 08, 1990|TRACEY KAPLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Margaret Kelly, the mother of the late Princess Grace of Monaco and matriarch of an illustrious Irish-American family frequently compared to the Kennedys, has died at the age of 91.

Mrs. Kelly died Saturday of pneumonia in a convalescent home in Linwood, N.J. She had been admitted to the home in 1982 after a stroke, a spokeswoman said. She said Mrs. Kelly had suffered several strokes in recent years and was unaware of the 1982 death of her daughter, Grace Kelly, the film actress who married Prince Rainier III and became Princess of Monaco.

Princess Grace died in a car accident in a small French town near Monaco. She was 52.

Margaret Kelly, the former Margaret Majer of the Strawberry Mansion section of Philadelphia, was a beauty queen, a model and a physical education instructor. She was the first director of women's athletics at the University of Pennsylvania.

She married John B. (Jack) Kelly Jr. in 1924 after he won several Olympic rowing championships. Kelly worked his way up from the job of bricklayer to head a construction empire.

The couple had four children.

The Philadelphia family was known for its accomplishments in athletics, politics, business and art.

For instance, the couple's only son, John B. Kelly Jr., was also an Olympic champion rower and was president of the U.S. Olympic Committee. He served two terms on the Philadelphia City Council and was active in civic affairs. He died in 1985 at the age of 57, after suffering a heart attack while jogging in Philadelphia.

Mrs. Kelly is survived by two other children, Margaret Conlan and Lizanne LeVine.

Funeral services were planned for Tuesday in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, the longtime home of the Kelly family.

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