By: Cerita Purmort

Passion and education are two words that come to mind after your first conversation with Dr. Barbara Kelly. Details of her career in education would make all of us want to go back to school and have her be our teacher. Her passion for each level of education was, and still is, strong. She taught history, was a school principal, and was the area superintendent for a system with over 20,000 students. This system represented a microcosm of
America. The students came from families of middle to low income, students needing special programs for the deaf and blind, students with English as a second language representing 18 countries and many more specializations.

Barbara was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother’s parents were Swedish immigrants. Her father came from a very poor background on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He borrowed $18 so he could move to Philadelphia, where he met, fell in love, and married Barbara’s mother. He went to work for Scott Paper Company and was required to move around the country. Barbara said each move was like starting over in her classes.

Her college education began at Wells College (of Wells Fargo fame). Transportation to graduation was by real stagecoach! She received a Master’s Degree in education from Johns Hopkins University and a Master’s Degree in Latin American history from the University of Maryland. She attended University of Maryland for a Doctorate Degree in the history of education. Barbara met and married Robert Kelly in Baltimore. They were married for 55 years. Robert was an electrical engineer and his career included working to create automatic landing systems for the aircraft industry.

Barbara took six years from her career to raise two children. Her son Jonathan is an investment banker. He is the father of two of Barbara’s grandchildren. Her daughter Anne is a physical therapist, and is now at home with her husband and two children. Robert and Barbara purchased a villa in Prestancia in Sarasota in 1998 and were snowbirds for eight years. When they retired to Florida full-time, Barbara did not change her attitude toward life.

She serves on the Board of Directors of Friendship Centers. She has been a board member of Pierian Spring Academy and of Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning and participates in other organizations as well. Robert was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and Barbara became his caretaker. He passed away, and she made the decision to move to Plymouth Harbor and has been here since November. She is living in a temporary apartment while hers is being renovated. A real gift for her is that Anne and her family are moving to Sarasota into the Prestancia villa!

When you see Barbara around Plymouth Harbor, be sure to return her gracious smile and “hello.” Getting to know her will be a pleasure and you will be glad that you did!