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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 5:32 pm | Fair 65º


90-Plus for Peace: Frank Kelly

He is focused on the future, and believes that 'every person can be a good neighbor.'

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of stories by Steven Crandell to introduce readers to extraordinary Santa Barbara peace leaders. All of them are older than age 90. Although their lives are very different, one thing binds all of them: They take individual satisfaction from contributing to the greater good.

At age 94, one might be excused for focusing on the past, but Frank Kelly has his sights on the future.

Peter Yarrow and Frank Kelly. (Rick Carter photo)

“I want to create a Center for Humanity’s Future,” Kelly said. This center “would honor all the works of compassion going on in many places, sparking many dialogues and loving exchanges.”

He nodded and smiled. “We have a duty to take delight in every moment,” he said.

There isn’t enough space to chronicle the amazing events of Kelly’s life and what led him to spend most of his life working for peace. But it’s worth noting that his father returned from World War I with serious physical and psychological wounds. Kelly also saw the casualties of World War II firsthand. It steeled his resolve “that my sons and my grandsons — as well as the children of millions of other veterans — would not have to settle disputes by stabbing or shooting or bombing one another.”

Here are only a few highlights from his life:

» He was one of the best science-fiction writers in the country as a teenager in the 1930s and has been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He has published numerous books of nonfiction, too. His oral history, Kissing Joy As It Flies, is to be published later this year.

» He landed at Normandy with Allied troops as a war correspondent and shared in the liberation of Paris in 1944.

» He wrote speeches for Harry Truman’s famous 1948 whistle-stop campaign for president.

» He co-founded the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation with David Krieger, Wally Drew and Charles Jamieson in 1982 to work for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Asked what people can do to help make the world more peaceful, his advice is sage and down-to-earth. “Every person can be a good neighbor,” he said. “It starts with respect for yourself and all the people around you. We must be aware of our responsibilities to everyone who shares the planet with us. We are all members of one human family.”

Steven Crandell is the director of development and public affairs for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

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