Friday, May 25, 2018
Politics

Loraine Kelly, former wife of former congressman convicted in Abscam, dies

Loraine Kelly, former wife of Richard Kelly, a former U.S. representative and Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge, died July 11, 2017, in St. Simons Island, Ga. She was 89 and suffered from malignant brain tumors.

Mrs. Kelly was widely known in the Tampa Bay area and wrote Through Trials to Glory, in 2015, a mostly flattering memoir of her marriage to Kelly. The book focused on Kelly's troubles: an impeachment of him as judge by the Florida House in 1963, an investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission in 1968 and his bribery conviction in 1980 as part of the FBI's Abscam sting while he was a congressman from Pasco County.

She also wrote, for the first time, details of their headline-making divorce in 1978 when Kelly left her and married a congressional aide. She noted advice from other congressional wives who said "No matter if the congressman is short, plump, bald and with a wart on his nose, there will be a miniskirt chasing him.''

She said other congressional wives were critical when she remained silent and helped him win re-election.

Richard Kelly died at 81 in a Montana nursing home in 2005 a few years after marrying his fifth wife. He spent his final years trying to convince people that he had been entrapped by federal prosecutors while conducting his own investigation of several suspicious characters who turned up around his congressional office.

A devout Christian, Mrs. Kelly after the divorce used her talents as an interior designer to work for Ethel Kennedy, widow of Sen. Robert Kennedy at Hickory Hill in McLean, Va. Born in Brunswick, Ga., she moved back to the Georgia coast in 2004 after 30 years in the Washington area.

Daughter Sherri Jones and four grandchildren lived nearby on St. Simons Island. Mrs. Kelly spent her summers in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, near son John Kelly and his three children.

She was a perpetual student, attending college classes everywhere she lived. She loved traveling, reading, painting, gardening, cooking and redecorating her houses in Georgia and Idaho.

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