Ken Kelley has a long and remarkable record of achievement in both high school and university track and field. His first college achievement in track and field began in 1952 at San Antonio Junior College where he won the first gold medal for the college by winning the high jump event at the Texas Relays. He repeated this achievement in the same event at the Texas Relays in 1955 in the University Division while representing the University of North Texas.
Ken Kelley represented UNT in track and field in the years 1953-1955. In the three years at UNT he was high-point man in track and field in nearly every meet in 1954 and 1955. Back-to-back high-point man at the popular Border Olympics, West Texas Relays, and most invitational meets. He set school records in the high hurdles and high jump in 1955. At the Texas AAU meet in Houston, Texas, in 1955, he scored 39 points, competing in 5 events—winning the 120 -yard high hurdles, the 440 -yard intermediate hurdles, and placing in the high jump, long jump, and the triple jump.
After graduation from the university, he served a stint in the U.S. Army, representing Brook Army Medical Center. In the two years while at BAMC he won the decathlon at the Kansas Relays, placed third in the inter-service decathlon and finished fifth in the national decathlon trails that same season. He was eighth in the Olympic Trails in 1956.
After serving in the Army, Kelley moved into coaching at Jefferson High School as an assistant football and head track coach. He had state qualifiers in track from Jefferson and Texas City High Schools.
In 1965 he became an assistant football coach and head track coach at Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Texas (Now Texas A & M Kingsville). In 1969 and 1970, as receiver coach at Texas A&I, his team won back to back national championships in football.
During these same two years 1969-1970, the 1969 Javelinas won five conference gold medals and the 1970 squad dominated the league meet, winning nine events. This same team finished fourth at the NAIA National meet in Montana. His 120-yard high hurdler took the 1969 National NAIA championship first place metal. His athletes set school records in every relay and all track and field events with the exception of the javelin, 440-yard hurdles, and the long jump.
Kelley was named LSC Coach of the Year and NAIA District Coach of the Year in 1969 and 1970, the first league mentor to be so honored. Kelley has also been inducted into the University of North Texas Athletic Hall of Fame.
Ken was preceded in death by his parents and his beloved wife, Barbara Dempsey Kelley. He is survived by Vivian I. Tobey, his name sake Kenneth D. Tobey (Sheila), Stephen D. Tobey (Tina), Randall M. Tobey (Donna) along with many other cousins.
A Memorial service will be held Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. at Turcotte – Piper Mortuary Chapel.
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