Radio veteran John Kelly signs off

Former ABC Wollongong bureau chief John Kelly died yesterday, aged 82.Those who knew Mr Kelly described him as a terrific journalist, natural gentleman and proud family man.He arrived in Wollongong from Adelaide in the 1960s, and in October 1968 provided national coverage of the fires that were devastating the region.His own house was threatened by flames, until a sudden change in wind direction."There were hundreds of stories that day. Wollongong was on fire," he would tell journalists many years later.Former colleague Janine Cullen praised Mr Kelly as a journalist who bore "the crest of the old guard" and staunchly maintained the benchmarks of good journalism."As my boss in the early days, he demanded a strong work ethic as we worked under tight deadlines," Ms Cullen said."But at the same time he was caring and compassionate when I needed it most, as a young working mother."This honest and humble man will be missed by many."A Thirroul resident, Mr Kelly was known as an ardent Butchers football fan.After retirement, he edited and produced the Butchers' 90th anniversary magazine from 1913-2003.Long-time friend and journalist Paddy Ginnane described Mr Kelly as a real gentleman and a good friend."He was just a lovely person," Mr Ginnane said.Mr Kelly is survived by his wife Rose, son Brian and daughter Fiona, and five grandchildren.

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