Gwendolyn Geraldine Kelley slipped peacefully from this life on April 10, 2023, following a brief illness.
Gwennie was born May 23, 1919, in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, the daughter of Frank and Eva (Hadd) Erwin. Her dad’s business as a creamery manager entailed lots of transfers but, when she was 12, they settled down in Fort Covington, NY. At about that time her cousin, Helen, whom she came to regard as a sister, came to live with them. Both graduated from the Fort Covington High School in 1937.
Gwennie went on to become a music and elementary school teacher, earning her master’s degree from Postdam Normal School, while Helen became a nurse. Gwen taught for two years in a one-room district school, an experience she recalled fondly, eventually publishing a well-regarded memoir in the Franklin County Historical Magazine. She then became a traveling music teacher, visiting the two village schools in Fort Covington and Bombay as well as many district schools in the area. Some of her former students have recalled how excited they were when she would arrive with her trunk full of rhythm instruments and her accordion. When Salmon River Central School opened in 1957, she accepted a position as an elementary teacher, retiring from there in 1987. Although interested in any and all religions, Gwen was a lifelong Episcopalian. She loved her church and church music, serving for many years as an organist at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Fort Covington. She also taught piano lessons to countless children in the Fort. She sang and played at numerous weddings and funerals; at family reunions, nothing was more fun for her than singing old songs and gospel hymns with her extended family in four-part harmony.
In 1944, she married Thomas Price with whom she had one daughter, Eva Amelia, in 1950. She was married a second time in 1961 to Kenneth Kelley with whom she had her second daughter, Mary Eleanor. She was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, receiving her diamond pin for 75 years two years ago. She read voraciously and traveled extensively, her daughters being her favorite traveling companions. Gwen leaves behind her daughters, Eve Phillips and Eleanor (Gruja) Paunovic, four grandchildren: James (Rebecca) Phillips, Meghan Thompson, Kenneth Paunovic, and Katherine Rose Paunovic, and four great-grandchildren: Pryce and Margaret Phillips and Gwendolyn (her namesake) and Paul Thompson. She also leaves several dear step-grandchildren who also delighted to call her Nana. She was predeceased by her parents, her husband, her sister, Helen, and her dear son-in-law, Jim.
Gwen’s funeral will be held Saturday, April 15th, at The Church of the Resurrection, and a Celebration of Life is being planned for this summer.
Memorials in her name may be made to The Church of the Resurrection, 120 West 5th St., Oswego, NY 13126 or to the Oswego County Humane Society at 29 West Seneca St., Oswego, N.Y. 13126
Arrangements are in the care of the Dowdle Funeral Home.
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