Sunday, September 7, 2014

Moyne LeClerque Kelly (1901-1988)

Portrait courtesy of the Texas Legislative Reference Library.

   Hailing from the county of Dickens in Texas, Moyne LeClerque Kelly served two sessions in the Texas State Legislature, being elected as a representative from Dickens County. Both prior to and after his time in state government Kelly earned distinction as a principal and superintendent of schools in both Arkansas and Texas, retiring from his duties in June of 1970.
   Born in Norwood, Pulaski County, Missouri on October 29, 1901, Moyne LeClerque Kelly was the son of John Hazard and Rhoda Garetta Cline Kelly. A graduate of the Corsicana, Texas High School in the class of 1919, Kelly was employed as an oil field worker by the Gulf Production Co. and married his high school sweetheart Helen Marguerite Jones (1902-1991) in December 1919. The couple would later have two daughters, Helen Juanita (born 1925) and Betty Lou (born 1934). During the early 1920s both Kelly and his wife would be employed by the Methodist Home at Waco, Texas. The couple would remain here for twelve years, with Moyne serving as the manager of the Home's dairy farm and broom factory, as well as being the principal of the Home's Grammar School.
   In 1932 Kelly and his family removed from Waco to Arkansas, where he would teach at a "rural school" in the town of Lonsdale. The Kelly's would remove back to Texas in 1933, and after settling in Crosby County Moyne returned to education, serving as the principal of the Leatherwood School from 1934-36. He and his family would move once again in 1936, this time to Lubbock County, Texas. Here Moyne would assume the superintendency of the Roosevelt Consolidated School, and after a two-year term (1935-38), resettled in Afton, Texas, where in 1941 he would take on the position of superintendent of the Patton Springs School.

              Moyne Kelly as principle of the Leatherwood School, from the History of Crosby County, 1876-1977. 

    In 1944 Moyne L. Kelly was named as Superintendent of the State Home at Corsicana, Texas, serving in this capacity until 1949. Two years later he was selected to be the Executive Director of the Texas Board of Hospitals and Special Schools, and after two years in this office relocated to the city Kerrville to accept the position of superintendent of schools. He and his family returned to Afton, Texas in 1952 and for the next two years would teach school at Patton Springs. In January 1955 Kelly became a candidate in a special election for the Texas State House of Representatives to succeed David Ratliff, who had resigned a few weeks previously, and after winning the election was sworn in on January 8.
  During his first term in the legislature (1955-1957) Kelly held a seat on the committees on Congressional and Legislative Districts, Constitutional Amendments, Municipal and Private Corporations and State Hospitals and Special Schools. He was a successful candidate for reelection in November 1956, and an election notice for him (shown below) appeared a few months prior to his victory. In this notice, Kelly intoned that: 
"The matter of passing laws or instituting legislation takes on many forms, if all the people are represented. Laws are passed to protect, to improve, to establish, to prevent; to remove; to alleviate, to inaugurate, to restrain and to help the greatest number of people in the Big State of Texas. If a legislator keeps these things in mind during his deliberations, he cannot be far from right when action is taken on legislative matter."
A Kelly reelection notice from the Aspermont Star, July 26, 1956.

    At the start of his second term in January 1957 Kelly was named to the committees on Agriculture, Judicial Districts, Livestock-Stock Raising, and Penitentiaries. He also continued service on the State Hospitals and Special Schools committee during the 1957-59 term, serving as its chairman.
   Following his time in state government Kelly returned to teaching and in 1968 was once again named as Superintendent of Schools for Patton Springs. He retired from that office in 1970 and died on April 11, 1988 at El Campo, Texas. The 86-year-old retired legislator and teacher was survived by his wife Helen and both his daughters. Following her death at age 89 in 1991 Helen Jones Kelly was interred alongside her husband at the Garden of Memories Cemetery in El Campo. 
  In an aside note, there seems to be some confusion as to the selling of Moyne L. Kelly's middle name, with sources giving its spelling as both LeClerque and Lexlerque. The name is further complicated by Kelly's gravestone in El Campo, which records it as Lee. As the International Genealogical Index gives the name as "LeClerque", it is that spelling that is given in the title to his profile here.


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  2. Very nice article about my great-uncle. Thanks!