Jack Kelly, a United States Sports Academy Board of Trustees member and longtime leader with the Olympics and other sport organizations, died recently after a long battle with bladder cancer.
Kelly, who was 68, is best known for his organization of major sporting events, such as the World Equestrian Games, Goodwill Games and Olympic Festival.
“I considered Jack Kelly one of the brightest people in sport,” said Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, United States Sports Academy president and CEO. “There was nothing he didn’t know or couldn’t do. He was very creative and inventive.”
Dr. Rosandich pointed out that Kelly developed tiny radios that allowed fans who attended major sporting events to listen to the broadcast of the action as they watched it.
Most recently, Kelly was the CEO for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games held in Lexington, Ky., and responsible for all aspects of the $75 million budget. He is credited for laying the groundwork for the Games, which became a successful and historic event in Lexington.
Kelly served as both the president of the Goodwill Games Inc. and the director of all Turner Broadcasting’s international sports efforts. He oversaw the $200 million-plus enterprise for six years from 1990-96 for billionaire entrepreneur Ted Turner.
In addition, Kelly organized the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival in Houston and ran the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
During his career, Kelly also was CEO of the Space City (Houston) Sports Commission and the Bowling Proprietors Association of America. He served on the USA Baseball Executive Committee, United States Olympic Committee, the Greater Houston Sports Federation, the Houston International Festival, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival and the Bluebonnet Bowl.
In addition, he had a successful corporate executive career for 16 years in which he served as an officer of two top 50 Houston-based U.S. corporations—Tenneco Inc. and the American General Corporation.
Over the years, Kelly also developed what many say was one of the largest individual collections of Olympic and sports memorabilia.
Kelly is survived by his wife, Kathy, and children, Michael Kelly and Kerry Lynn Schatz.