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Richard Kelley, 91; former President Clinton's stepfather

February 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

HOT SPRINGS, ARK. — Richard Kelley, stepfather of former President Bill Clinton, died Wednesday evening at his home. He was 91.

Kelley had been in declining health in recent weeks and the former president visited him Monday.

Kelley ran a food brokerage business for many years in Little Rock before retiring in 1992.

He met Clinton's mother, Virginia, at a horse-racing track and they married in 1982. It was his second marriage and her fourth.

At the time, Clinton was preparing for a campaign to regain the Arkansas governor's office.

"I would come to love Dick Kelley and grow ever more grateful for the happiness he brought Mother and me," Clinton wrote in his memoir, "My Life."

The Kelleys were married 12 years before she died Jan. 6, 1994, after a battle with breast cancer.

Even after her death, Kelley promoted his wife's autobiography, "Leading With My Heart," appearing on national television and autographing books.

In a newspaper interview, he said he was content to promote the book for one reason: "I have fond memories of Virginia and I know she'd want me to do this."

Kelley became one of Clinton's favorite golf companions.

"Well into his 80s, when he played his handicap and I played mine, he beat me more than half the time," Clinton wrote.

Kelley also cherished the former president, referring to him as "my best friend."

"When you meet the president, he'll just make you feel like you're the most important person in the room," Kelley once told the Associated Press.

"He's just a regular guy and if you're playing cards or playing golf with him, you'd see that," he said.

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