Remembering longtime Boston College basketball SID Dick Kelley
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- At Conte Forum on Sunday evening, the montage on the video board flashed the images in slow motion. There was longtime BC sports information director Dick Kelley with his arm around former BC quarterback Matt Ryan, receiving a hug from current Eagle basketball player Ryan Anderson and doing what he loved most, sitting courtside for a Boston College basketball game.
Kelley, 48, died last Thursday evening at Massachusetts General Hospital, his body finally succumbing to ALS. On his final night, his parents, Ed and Ann, relayed the play-by-play of Boston College's game at Georgia Tech. Soon after, he went to sleep and passed peacefully after battling ALS since 2011.
BC coaches and players wore a black "DK" patch to honor Kelley in their 73-69 loss to Notre Dame on Sunday. Kelley served the past 22 years as the primary men's basketball contact at BC, but his legacy at the school looms larger than the title.
Kelley executed his job with an enduring spirit and relentless wit, prodding his players to register to vote and serving as their Confirmation sponsors.
ALS, which is commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a vicious disease that attacks the body's nerve cells and eventually robs the body of voluntary movement. As Kelley's body failed him, he continued to go to work, and his passion for Boston College was reciprocated. The school moved him to an apartment close to campus. Co-workers helped take him to the bathroom. Maintenance workers helped physically move him around. Hockey coach Jerry York delivered chicken parmesan to Kelley on Friday nights.
"I wanted to thank Boston College and the Jesuit order for what they've done for my son," said Ed Kelley, Dick's father, who sat 10 rows behind BC's bench on Sunday with his grandson, Micky.
As his movement failed him, Dick Kelley continued to pass on media requests, send encouraging e-mails to players and congratulatory tweets to former BC athletes. A perfectionist to the end, all correspondences consisted of perfect grammar.
As he fought ALS, Kelley received many visitors, including FAU coach Mike Jarvis, former NFL tight end Pete Mitchell and Rangers star Chris Kreider. Former BC hockey star Ben Smith stopped by with the Stanley Cup.
After a moment of silence for Kelley before the game on Sunday, tears streamed down the face of guard Joe Rahon during the national anthem. The BC team frequented Kelley's apartment to watch games, eat catered dinners and offer their support.
"All he ever used to ask me was, 'Are you happy?'" said Anderson. "That's all he ever wanted. He just wanted us to have fun and having a great BC experience."
When Ed Kelley walked into Conte Forum a few minutes before tip-off, a receiving line of hugs, handshakes and condolences formed at the scorer's table. Everyone from the stat crew, to the assistant athletic directors to Notre Dame officials came over to say a few words about his son. The wave of support created a logjam, with cheerleaders and dance team members trying to wedge through the wall of people lining up to talk with Ed Kelley.
"I couldn't believe," Ed Kelley said of his son, "how many people he touched."