Paul Lance Kelly

Born: May 7, 1939
Died: December 16, 2017

Paul Lance Kelly passed away peacefully on December 16, in Houston, Texas. Surviving Paul are his devoted wife of fifty years, Grace Doyle Kelly and their two children: Paul Lance Kelly, Jr. and his wife, Laura of Burlingame, California; Mari Kelly Josey and her husband Robert, of Austin, Texas. He was the proud grandfather of four grandchildren: Taylor Elizabeth Josey, Lila Claire Josey, Travis Andrew Josey, and Paul Lance Kelly III. Paul was also survived his four siblings: Sheila Palandjian of Belmont, Massachusetts; Carol Khozozian of Watertown, Massachusetts; Sean Kelly of Nahant, Massachusetts; Lawrence Kelly of Portland, Oregon, as well as many nieces and nephews.

Paul was born in Salem, Massachusetts on May 7, 1939, son of Lawrence Kelly and Edith Rioux. He graduated from Phillips Academy Andover in 1958, Yale University in 1962, and Yale Law School in 1965. At Yale he was a member of Branford, rooming with Dixie Carroll, David Crosby, Joe Graham and Bill Gross. He held the Jackson-Elihu Scholarship, majored in Political Science and was on the Dean’s List. He was a member of the Political Union, DKE and Elihu and lettered in track.

Paul was lured to Texas with an offer from Fulbright & Jaworski in 1965, where he began his early career in corporate and securities law. Paul quickly adapted to life in the Lone Star State, becoming a proud Houstonian intrigued with oil and gas. He held various positions within Zapata Corporation from 1969 to 1982, then continued on to enjoy a lengthy career as Senior Vice President of Rowan Companies, Inc. There he managed special projects and government and industry affairs. Paul spent two of those years in London managing Rowan’s drilling operation in the North Sea.

Throughout his career, Paul became an international expert on energy and ocean policy. He was a Senior Editorial Advisor for World Oil and appeared in numerous congressional and federal hearings dealing with offshore oil and gas issues. In 2001, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, headed by Admiral James Watkins. Paul was charged with examining major issues affecting America’s coasts and oceans and producing a comprehensive national ocean policy to be presented to the Secretary of Interior. He was also President of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, dedicated to bringing the environmental conservation community, the private sector, and government agencies together on environmental sustainability issues in the Gulf. In 2015, Paul received a Harte’s Heroes Award from Texas A&M’s Harte Research Institute, honoring his leadership and his passion for protecting and preserving the beauty and health of the Gulf of Mexico.

Paul really loved nature, always admiring the beauty in all that God created. He was green-thumbed, always piddling in the yard, and loved to birdwatch. He also enjoyed spending time on his farm in Cat Spring. Paul was an outdoorsman, enjoying many weekends duck hunting with his family and friends at his lease in Garwood, Texas. He never missed an opportunity to travel to Scotland for a pheasant shoot.

Most recently, Paul enjoyed his friends at Tuesday Breakfast Club at River Oaks Country Club.

A private burial service was held at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston on Thursday, December 21.

In lieu of customary remembrances, please consider directing memorial contributions to the Nantz National Alzheimer Center in support of Dr. Gustavo Roman’s research at Houston Methodist Hospital,, or P.O. Box 4384, Houston, TX 77210-4384.

Published in Houston Chronicle on Dec. 22, 2017

In our 40th Reunion Class book Paul wrote “More personally Grace and I are blessed with a son, Lance, who is a successful software engineer working in Silicon Valley, and a wonderful daughter, Mari who with her husband Robert brought us our first grandchild…. Life has been good. Grace is the best thing that ever happened to me. We travel frequently. I like to hunt and fish, and while I have become a bonafide Texan, I enjoy going to New England which still has a special place in my heart.”

Eli Newberger wrote: “During our year as freshman counselor roommates in McLellan Hall on the Old Campus, beginning in September, 1962, Paul’s and my friendship deepened. As first-year students in the law and medical schools, during meals in the Commons and around squash games at Branford College and the Payne Whitney gym, we supported one another’s contending with the rigorous introductions to our new professions. Paul radiated a steady warmth and generosity. His admiration for President Kennedy, built while he was growing up in Boston, also gave us an opportunity to share our grief after JFK’s assassination in Dallas.”

Alex Garvin wrote: “When Paul Kelly and I were residents of Branford College we used to bore our friends with political conversations. Neither of us were ideologues. We were interested in the specifics of politics. The friendship blossomed at Elihu and then while I was in Architecture School and Paul at Law School.

Once Paul moved to Houston, after Law School, I would visit every year or so. Paul transformed me into one of those rare New Yorkers, who admired Houston, especially the Post Oak-Uptown District, where Paul and his wife Grace lived. They were always extremely gracious taking me around the metropolitan area, showing me whatever they felt was important for me to see.

The political conversations continued. Although Paul never went into government, he was involved in a number of lobbying activities. He also slowly lost his Boston Irish political leanings and took on the coloring of Houston politics.

Our last political conversation was about a year ago. Paul and Grace invited me to dinner at their club. He was still in good shape, even though he had not fully overcome the effects of a stroke. I could not believe that a smart guy like him cold be for Trump. I had too much respect for him, however, to argue.

I last visited Paul ten days before he died. It was very sad to seeing him barely aware of his surroundings and physically uncomfortable. Grace told me that my visit was most comforting and mattered to him. We all will miss Paul, one of the most impressive people in or class.”

John Harger Stewart