Bernard “Skip” Kelley, a former Westwood mayor and the uncle of State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale), died on December 11. He was 77 and had battled cancer for six years.
A Vietnam War veteran, Kelley was first elected to the Westwood Borough Council in 1983, after he and Frank O’Shea, whose father had been a Westwood councilman in the 1940s, defeated incumbent Robert Gundlah in the Republican primary. Kelley was the top vote-getter in the general election and ran more than 400 votes ahead of Democrat Eugene O’Brien.
After O’Shea declined to seek re-election in 1986, Kelley ran with former Mayor Bud Stasse; the two were unopposed.
Kelley resigned his seat in 1989 but came back in 1995 to win election as mayor. He had no Democratic opposition.
When he sought re-election to a second term in 1999, Kelley faced two Republican primary opponents. He defeated Thomas Wanner by about 35 votes. In the general election, he defeated Democrat Walter Kelly by about 200 votes, 54%-46%.
Wanner challenged Kelley again in 2003 and beat him in the GOP primary by roughly 100 votes, 59%-41%.
Kelley spent more than 20 years as the Bergen County Recycling coordinator and later earned his real estate license.
He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1968 and was deployed to Vietnam. Kelley mentored hundreds of people who deal with alcohol abuse issues.
His late father, Bernard J. Kelley, was a merchant marine captain.
Kelley is survived by his wife of 54 years, Nina, four children and four grandchildren, and three sisters, Joy Schepisi, Sheila Kelley and Pam Morey.
Visitation will be held from 3-8 PM on Wednesday at the Becker Funeral Home in Westwood, with funeral services at 11:30 AM on Thursday at the Garden of Memories in Washington Township.