Paul Kelly — a Wall Street visionary and philanthropist — died last week in Westport, from complications associated with COVID-19. He was 81 years old.
Born in Boston and raised in Wellesley Massachusetts, Paul was an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan, a lifelong tennis enthusiast, and a music lover who enjoyed both opera and Little Richard.
Paul and Nancy, his wife of 43 years, and their 4 daughters lived on Sherwood Mill Pond for over 30 years. They enjoyed hosting events like family weddings and clambakes.
Paul had a deep, enduring love for the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated with a BA in English (1962), and an MBA in Finance from Wharton (’64).
Paul was a trustee emeritus of Penn, an overseer of its College of Arts & Sciences, and an advisor and director of the Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business.
Paul credited his education with helping him develop a keen understanding of economics and financial markets. He made important impacts on the industry by introducing new financing concepts to the capital markets. He originated financing techniques like commercial paper issuance and publicly-issued preferred stock for bank holding companies, as well as short-term collateral trust notes for mortgage banking companies.
In the early 1970’s, Paul identified untapped Japanese investment potential. He formed his own merchant and investment banks, Peers & Co. and Knox & Co. He became an expert on the Japanese market, and was featured on NBC, The Wall Street Journal Report, PBS, and in Forbes and Fortune magazine.
Paul continued to expand his business in Asia and the Pacific Basin, most recently in China where he met with President Xi and Jack Ma, former chair of Alibaba Group, to discuss financial and educational opportunities.
He also founded the U.S–China Future Leaders Program, for graduate students to promote mutual understanding and respect between the nations.
In the 1990’s Paul expanded into the real estate market in New Zealand, where he purchased a large swath of coastal land on the North Island. He developed the Carrington Club, a world class golf resort, and Karikari Estate Vineyards, whose wines have won gold medals in world competition. He was also a member of the Confrerie de Chevaliers du Tastevin, an international organization of vineyard owners and wine enthusiasts.
In 1998, Paul supported the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers’ House for literary discussions and social enjoyment for students. KWH has hosted lectures by Gay Talese, Susan Sontag, John Updike and other writers and poets, becoming an innovative model of excellence for other colleges.
Paul had a lifelong commitment to the welfare of students worldwide, especially those requiring financial support. He established the Kelly Family Foundation to benefit educational initiatives including a program to aid Maori students at the University of Auckland.
In addition to his educational interests, Paul was a member of the director’s advisory board of the Yale Cancer Center and the Visionary Council of MIT Collaborative Initiatives, developing medical and health care programs.
A man of integrity and vision, Paul is remembered as a witty conversationalist with a generous heart, an appreciation for wine and dark chocolate, and an aversion to all things technological.
Paul is survived by his wife Nancy; daughters Courteney (Jame), Lindsay (Patrick), Whitney (Matthew), Brooke (Alberto), and 9 grandchildren; Paul his sister Nancy. and nieces Tina and Amanda.
Memorial gifts may be made in Paul’s name to Alzheimer’s Association.
A gentle soul. A gentleman. A charmer.
We miss you, Paul.
So good get a glimpse of the man behind the KWH.
Mark Head, MD