The Life of Perry Colby Kelson
My father, Perry Colby Kelson, was born on July 12, 1923 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and he was the only child of his parents. His father, Everett Stanley Kelson, was a teacher of math and the Headmaster of the senior school (grades 9 through 12) at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, which is one of the oldest schools in the country, founded in 1689 by the Quakers. My father attended all twelve grades at Penn Charter, including classes conducted by his father. My father graduated from Penn Charter in 1941. His father continued teaching and heading the Senior School there until his death in 1949 at the age of 56. When his father died he was honored by Penn Charter for being an outstanding educator and leader in the community and I still have the tributes written about my grandfather in the school publications.
After graduating high school from Penn Charter, my father attended the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. He was a reluctant member of a fraternity there, and he did not participate much because he was not particularly sociable, preferring the close friendships he had with his Penn Charter friends.
His college days were interrupted by World War II. Because of a medical
deferment, he did not serve in the military but instead worked at a
Philco radio manufacturing plant building military radios for the war
effort. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, my father began
what would be a 40 year finance career with General Electric. He would
work in their downtown Philadelphia office for 25 years and then 5 years
in Syracuse, New York and the remaining 10 years in Dallas.
My father married my mother, Elsie Hemphill (Landon) Kelson in 1963. They became neighborhood sweethearts after meeting at the bus stop on their commutes into downtown Philadelphia from their nearby homes in Drexel Hill. They married later than was the norm at the time (my father was 39 and my mother 36) and they moved into my mother’s home to care for her aging mother who would soon pass .My father considered my mother his best friend and they enjoyed 45 years of marriage together until my mother died in 2008 at the age of 81.
On his last day and during the last moments of his life, as had been the
case his entire life, he had no fear of dying. And he died very
My father’s life lasted 94 years 7 months and 23 days. He died on March 7, 2018 at 10:38 p.m. with me at his side on his beloved wife’s birthday. Kathi would say to me later that night when I told her that he had passed, “Your mother got a great birthday present today.” She absolutely did.
Eroica. I am so proud of you Dad. From your loving son Keith Stanley Kelson, March 13, 2018