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Column for 10.26.11
For a personal reason I didn’t want to write about the “Joe Kelly Memorial Road” in Marcy. The aforementioned road, which has been so named for many months now, is just under a mile long and goes from the Oriskany exit at Route 49 to the Old River Road.
The WalMart Distribution Center and Marcy Correctional are at the intersection of Old River Road and Joe Kelly Memorial Road. WalMart has something to do with the name of the memorial road. Marcy Correctional does not.
Several times a week, without fail, since back when the road was renamed “Joe Kelly Memorial Road,” people have commented about it to me. Most have offered congratulations about having a road named in my honor. I’ve gotten many e-mails of the same sort, too.
I point out to all the well meaning people that the road is a “memorial” road, which means in memory of someone. I am still around and hope to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
This past week I’ve gotten more than the usual number of compliments about “having a road named after you.” Then on Saturday night, while at the Utica College hockey game, which UC won, two people came up to me about the sign.
The first one said, “That’s a well deserved honor. I was happy to see them name a road for you. Congratulations.”
I thanked him and explained it wasn’t me. As I always do, I pointed out “memorial” was in the road’s name. He looked puzzled and said, “Oh.”
The second person at the hockey game, who spends much of his time these days in Florida, approached me and said, “I’m sure happy to see you. I thought you died.”
“Why’s that?” I asked, but already knew the answer.
“I was driving over Route 49 and saw the Joe Kelly Memorial Road and, well, you know.”
Yes, I do know. I assured him that I was doing not bad at all.
As I’ve done many times in the past, I explained at the hockey game that the road was named after the other Joe Kelly, the one who was at one time the boss of the WalMart Distribution Center in Marcy, and a good man he was.
The WalMart Joe Kelly and I would kid each other about who the “other” Joe Kelly was. I said I was the main Joe Kelly and he was the “other” Joe Kelly. He, of course, had the opposite opinion.
Many years ago, back before the other Joe Kelly was transferred to a WalMart facility down south, he gave me a tour of Marcy’s WalMart Distribution Center. A banner was hung over the main entrance. In big letters: “WalMart Welcomes The OTHER Joe Kelly.”
WalMart’s Joe Kelly had a good sense of humor. He was an easy guy to be around.
He was good at his job, too, and WalMart recognized that by promoting him. I’ve never talked with anyone who worked at the Marcy Distribution Center who didn’t speak highly of him.
When Joe Kelly first moved here to take over as head of the Marcy Distribution Center, he introduced himself to me at a function and said, “Everybody tells me I need to meet the other Joe Kelly,” and he laughed.
I laughed, too, and said, “I’m going to give you some advice. Don’t list your name in the telephone book.”
“Why not?” the other Joe Kelly asked.
“Because I got sick of all the late night calls and took my name out of the book years ago, so you’re going to get all my calls.”
A year later I saw him at another function. He said, “I should have listened to your advice.”
One final thought. Should your travels ever bring you to Marcy and “Joe Kelly Memorial Road,” please think of WalMart’s Joe Kelly. He was only 51 when he died. He was a great man and many miss him and that’s why the road is named in his honor and memory.