Josephine Kelsay, 95, a resident of Stanislaus County for 88 years, passed away on Sunday, July 15 at her home in Oakdale surrounded by her loving family.
She was born on Sept. 1, 1916 in Muddy, Illinois, the youngest daughter of six children of Morris and Benedetta Pitti.
She and her family resided in Carlinville, Illinois until she was 8 years old when they moved to Stanislaus County where she attended Modesto area schools. She started high school in Modesto, but transferred to Oakdale at the beginning of her junior year.
Upon her arrival at Oakdale High School, she was escorted to her locker by the school’s 22-year-old janitor, Dan Kelsay, who on Oct. 1, 1933, became her husband and the love of her life for 72 years.
Mrs. Kelsay loved being a wife and a mother. When her husband began a career in law enforcement, she was a huge support. When he ran for County Sherriff in 1950, she was a remarkable asset. She had the uncanny ability to both remember the name of every person she met and every conversation she had with them. She was vivacious and naturally interested in the people she met, a perfect match for her husband’s more reserved nature.
She was always active and nearby in her children’s lives, serving as school secretary in the Patterson schools they attended.
When her children were completing their education, she became a reentry student, graduating from Modesto Junior College and Stanislaus State majoring in Spanish and Education.
After graduating she taught at Shackelford School in Modesto, served as the credentials evaluator at the County Superintendent of Schools Office, and then completed her career in 1975 as the Director of Federal-State Projects for Patterson Unified School District.
She had a life-long love for the Mexican people and their culture. She and a language professor from the University of Colorado started a school in Durango, Mexico, where she spent many summers teaching both Spanish and English. She and her husband enjoyed their later years traveling to Alamos, Mexico, where they spent many months at a time visiting friends in the village.
She also loved the written word and spent a lifetime writing verse, often humorously about her love for her husband.
She was proud of her family and adored them all. In later years she lost most of her vision yet continued an active life without complaint and relished her independence.
Survivors include her four children, Emily Hartvickson (Elvern), Daniel Kelsay (June), William Kelsay (Claire), Anne Jensen (Carl); eight grandchildren, Michael, Lisa, and Marcie Perazzetti, Anne Kelsay Gutierrez, Daniel Kelsay, Carl, John, and Carrie Jensen; 10 great-grandchildren, and numerous loving nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be at Oakdale Memorial Chapel on Thursday, July 19 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with a Rosary immediately following.
Services will be at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, Oakdale, on Friday, July 20 at 11 a.m. Burial will be at the Oakdale Citizen’s Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to Saint Mary’s Catholic Church or Modesto Community Hospice.