Irene Darlene “Mabe” Kelley
Irene Darlene Kelley was born on July 25, 1929, in Stanton, Nebraska to Joseph and Letitia Reilley Mabe. Irene was the third from the youngest of 12 children. When she was six, Irene‘s mother died of complications from childbirth. Irene was raised by her older siblings; particularly key in her upbringing were her sister, Nellie, and husband, Art Temple. They raised her alongside their daughter, Betty Lou. Notably, their mother, Letitia, had been an orphan from Ireland who had come to America and then she was sent across the nation on an orphan train. She was “adopted” to work as a servant by the postmaster in a small town in Nebraska.
As a young lady, Irene was a talented singer and rodeo rider. She and her sisters performed at local rodeos and she loved to trick ride and rope. In fact, her sister, Margaret Mabe, was the nation’s first female bull rider! Her Uncle Art appeared in the movie “Raintree County.” Irene was proud of her Irish heritage and she fittingly married a young man named Johnny Kelley from Barnsdall, Oklahoma in 1947. They made their home in Maysville, Oklahoma, where she finished her final semester of high school.
John and Irene had five children: John Curtis, Ronald Gene, Deborah Jo, Jackie Leland and Katherine Diane. They made their homes primarily in Oklahoma and Texas, eventually settling in Irving Texas in 1964. John and Irene were members of First Baptist Church, Irving for many years. Irene was blessed to have 12 grandchildren and she doted on them all. She became lovingly known as “Granny.” She poured herself lovingly into each and every child’s and grandchild’s life. Irene has 23 great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren. She and Johnny were married for 56 years.
After John’s retirement, they moved back to Barnsdall. They enjoyed traveling, farming, gardening and collecting furniture, and attending First Baptist Church, Barnsdall. Irene loved her family first and foremost. She loved collecting dishes and recipes, she loved cooking and sewing. Irene loved a cup of coffee and enjoyed chocolate cake. She would drink coffee anytime and anywhere with her family! She loved good music, fast cars and lovely clothes. She loved to be in contact with her children and grandchildren, spending many hours on the phone with them all. She loved life and her family.
She was preceded in death by her husband, John C. Kelley; son-in-law Doug Howle; and all of her siblings, as well as John’s parents, E.J. and Hattie Mae Kelley, and all of their children. She is survived by her children, John Curtis and Gloria Kelley, Ron and Nancy Kelley of Barnsdall, Rick and Debbie Isham of Callisburg, Texas, Jack Kelley and Patti Arroyo of Barnsdall and Owasso, Oklahoma and Kathy Howell of Barnsdall. She is survived by all of her grandchildren and their loving families.