This is Your Life Elly Kelly


This image came to me in a mystery lot of vintage photographs from Spakeasachild on Etsy.  Elly Kelly, born Eleanor Hoffman in 1915, was a well-known radio personality in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  She and her husband, Jack, operated a Christian radio station, WRFW, out of their home.

After graduating Hokah high school in Hokah, Minnesota, Elly went on to cosmetology school in Minneapolis.  In 1935, while employed as a beautician in LaCrosse, Wisconsin she met Jack Kelly, an announcer working in a radio studio across the street from the hair salon.  It was love at first sight! The two married in 1940 and had three children; John, Tom, and Margaret.

1952 Feb 7 HOMEMAKER'S HINTS Leader Telegram Eau Claire WI
Feb. 7, 1952 ~ Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, WI

In addition to starring in WRFW’s Kelly’s Kupboard, the family’s long-running radio breakfast show, Elly hosted a variety of other programs, including Club Calendar and Homemaker’s Tips.

As is often the case when researching women, I unearthed lots of little details about Elly’s husband, but not so much about her.  Jack was honored in 1973 with a “This is Your Life Jack Kelly” celebration and when Jack went into semi-retirement in 1977, the Eau Claire newspaper ran a feature article.  As Jack shared stories, Elly was quoted as jokingly saying, “You just have to sign Jack off when you want him to stop. When I try to shut Jack off, he says ‘Listen, talking is my business’, and I shut up.”  Although this indeed may have been a wife just ‘poking a little fun’ at her husband, I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness when I read it, imagining a woman living in the shadow of her husband’s spotlight.

1977 May 24 CASSIDYS SUPER STORE Leader Telegram Eau Claire WI

May 24, 1977 ~ Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, WI

Later in life, Elly was employed in the deli and bakery at the Consumers Co-op and Cassidy’s Super Store.  She lived to be 90 and is buried in the Calvary Catholic Cemetery beside Jack who passed in 1984.

Update ~ I’m happy to report that this photograph has been united with the family, specifically Elly’s daughter Margaret.

Census records
Find A Grave
Various articles from the Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, WI ~ Dec. 9, 1977 (Elly’s quote)

3 thoughts on “This is Your Life Elly Kelly

  1. A hint of sadness too for Elly not getting the recognition she probably deserved. What a sign of those times. Glad things are beginning to change. Thank you for high lighting this pioneering woman – for truly she was in so many ways ~ Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elly was my wife’s mother. I’m so happy you found this picture of her and memorialized her story like this, thank you. I only wish I’d have found the picture first 😉


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