J. Clarence Kelly Library History

This page provides information about the Greater Allegheny (formerly McKeesport) campus library's history. Please contact us with specific questions, concerns, or suggestions.


Brief History

Kelly Library was built in 1972 and is named for a respected member of the McKeesport community, Dr. J. Clarence Kelly. Dr. Kelly was born December 27, 1882 on a farm near Slippery Rock, PA. He graduated from Slippery Rock State Normal School in 1904, with a bachelor of science degree. He went on to graduate from the newly founded University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1910. He worked at McKeesport Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital, and was visiting surgeon at Pittsburgh Hospital and Columbia Hospital in Wilkinsburg, until 1917. That year, he began practice of general surgery and gynecology on the staff of McKeesport Hospital. In 1952, 20 business and professional friends donated $4,000.00 to McKeesport Hospital to furnish an operating room in the new wing in his honor. At the time of his death in 1970, he was still a member of the consulting staff.

On Wednesday, October 10, 1979 at 10:30 AM in the Ostermayer Auditorium, campus and university leaders dedicated the library to the memory of Dr. Kelly. The plaque (now displayed inside the main floor entrance) reads, "Whose slender figure cast a giant shadow of compassion and understanding across the community, inspiring others to acts of service and generosity emulating his own benevolences."


Excerpt from the Library Dedication Program

Dr. Kelly is lovingly remembered in the McKeesport area, even nine years after his passing from our midst. He is remembered for his outstanding talents as a physician and surgeon, but the surpassing memory is of his genius as a human being.

According to Dr. Preston Bradley, "The test of genius is not originality, the test of genius is universality". Dr. Kelly was truly a universal man... qualified as an engineer, a teacher, a pharmacist, a physician and surgeon, and widely consulted for his practical guidance in business matters. But of far greater importance, he was sought out because he was a compassionate person...

...His personal philosophy was summed up in a small poem, which he shared with his son. The few lines, written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, can provide sound advice and guidance to all of us, as we try to follow the path of kindness and concern which he walked here on earth.

With every rising of the sun
Think of your life as just begun
The past had cancelled and buried deep
All yesterdays. There let them sleep.
Concern yourself with but today
Grasp it and teach it to obey
Your will and plan. Since time began
Today has been a friend of man


In the memory of Dr. J. Clarence Kelly, at the request of the Advisory Board of the McKeesport Campus, the Board of Trustees of The Pennsylvania State University has named the building


Text courtesy of:

Elizabeth Township History Society
5811 Smithfield Street
Boston, PA 15135
(724) 754-2030