Media Relations Assistant
Aug. 6, 2003
Ed Kelly drives to his work site with nothing on his mind, but helping others. Returning to his alma mater, Santa Clara University, is his life.
Aside from playing tennis and gardening on a regular basis, Kelly, 86, has spent the past 22 years on the athletics staff at SCU volunteering in the ticket operations office.
"I really don't know what I would do if I quit," Kelly said. "It [volunteering] is pretty much my world."
Forty-two years of Kelly's life was devoted to PG&E as the manager of general services for the San Jose division. Then retiring in 1981, Kelly wanted to find something to occupy his free time.
"I had experience as the ticket manager volunteering for the California Rodeo in Salinas," Kelly said. "I thought maybe I could offer my services."
Pat Malley, who was the athletic director and football coach at the time, hired Kelly, who began working on Dec. 1, 1981. As Kelly recalls, his first couple of days volunteering, his eyes drift off into the distance, he thinks about some concerns that were floating through his head those first couple of days in December.
"Looking back, getting acquainted with staff was on my mind the morning I began volunteering," Kelly said, "but adjusting to a totally different life was the big thing."
Now in his 22nd year of volunteering, those concerns are the least of his worries.
"I think people feel more secure working with Ed around," said Robin Reynolds, associate athletic director. "Ed has been through the most administrative changes of anyone currently on staff."
Some of Kelly's tasks include preparing ticket inventory, filing advance ticket orders requested by the general public and assisting in game security by managing ticket operations during home game sporting events-all which require a lot of time and patience-but his spirit is always uplifting.
"He continually has a smile on his face," said Lisa Eskey, associate director of media relations. "And he makes us [the external services department] realize the amazing history of the university and how fortunate we are to be working for SCU."
Kelly sees volunteering as an opportunity to stay active, while being productive. There is never a moment when he does not look forward to coming to work, even on days one may least expect.
"He was working in the office Christmas Day this past year," said Jonathan Clough, associate athletic director of intercollegiate athletics.
The amount of hours and hard work Kelly puts into volunteering has just amazed the athletics staff.
"If a game starts at seven o'clock, Ed would begin setting up at four o'clock," Clough added. "He is definitely a role model."
"He has everything to do with retaining ticket sales," Reynolds stated. "Ed is always interacting with the fans at the games and certainly has a connection with the older alumni and fans."
Kelly's talent in handling ticket sales has allowed him to bring in $250,000 during a fiscal year, Clough said. "That is pretty amazing."
Kelly's exceptional ability in ticket sales ensures the satisfaction of the staff and fans, Eskey added.
When Kelly came to the university as a student in 1935 he began to associate himself with everything Santa Clara had to offer. However, it was not until he became an alum that he put so much of his time and effort into contributing back to the university.
His efforts earned him two awards that have made Kelly's experience with the university that much more rewarding.
Jerrold Kerr, the former executive director of the alumni association, had the opportunity to know and work with Kelly for 35 years. Kerr named Kelly to the Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990 for his efforts and dedication to volunteering. This award is the highest award the association gives each year to an alumnus.
"He truly enjoys what he does," Kerr said. "Ed is so happy to help others and he genuinely accommodates to the public when ticket purchases are made for the athletic events."
Then in 1992 Kelly received an Ignation award from the SCU Alumni Association for his contribution to society and service to others. Kelly was only the second alumnus to receive such an award.
"Ed always arranges the ticket availability for the alumni, as well as the alumni events before and after games," Kerr said. "You couldn't get a better guy to work with the alumni."
Kelly's personal experience as a student at Santa Clara was in his words, "certainly memorable and rewarding."
"It was a fairly simple way of life; it's a different world now," Kelly said.
Kelly appreciated everything SCU had to offer him while earning his degree. But looking back to the way the university was set up in the late 1930s he comments, "there is no comparison to what it is now."
The tuition was $900 per year, which included room, board and tuition.
"Now there is an example of inflation," Kelly joked.
The El Camino Real was a route for many that traveled from the Bay Area to Los Angeles but it bisected the university. However, in the 1980s, the city closed the road to the public and the change made the campus more cohesive.
"In my eyes the biggest change was the relocation of the El Camino Real, that made the university; it's home like."
Kelly enrolled in SCU during its 110-year history of being an all-male school. Women were accepted as undergraduates in 1961 and Santa Clara became the first coeducational Catholic university in California. The number of students tripled over the next decade. The size of the faculty also grew and the University began the largest building program in school history, constructing eight residence halls, a student union, and the athletic stadium. However, this is only a small percent of what Kelly has experienced in the 26 years he has been with the Broncos, student or volunteer.
"There were only 600 students enrolled here and there was only one advanced degree available," Kelly recalls.
When Kelly was a student, Santa Clara was not officially called Santa Clara University. Rather it was the University of Santa Clara, which for some the abbreviation could be confused with the initials of the University of Southern California.
Then in 1985 the school was officially named Santa Clara University. It is historic footnotes and events such as those that many of the staff members of the athletics department depend upon Kelly.
"In this department Ed is the source for historical information about the university," Reynolds said.
"You can literally ask Ed about any former player or game and he can tell you everything there is to know," Eskey added. "He has such a love for Bronco athletics it naturally comes to him."
While Kelly has no plans in the near future to discontinue volunteering, he says there are only two things that will determine when it is time for him to retire from his position.
"I need to consider my physical and mental ability," Kelly said.
Reynolds believes that Kelly's presence will be in the athletics department for as long as possible.
"On occasion we get a phone call from one of his kids telling us that we are working him too hard, but it's not us," Reynolds said. "He probably works more than he should."
While Clough added: "His family is concerned at times for how hard Ed works but it is certainly tough to argue with when you tell him to take time off."
Driving to work each morning Kelly does not dwell on the future, instead he reflects on memorable moments working at SCU and interacting with the students.
"The students have always been most cooperative and helpful," Kelly concluded. "The fact that I get to interact and work with the youth gives me a chance to see their perspective and understand their concerns."
Once a Bronco, always a Bronco!