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Michael Kelly 07/11/2020

Michael Kelly 07/11/2020

Michael Kelly, age 41, died Saturday, July 11, 2020 at his home. Michael Thomas Kelly was born on September 15, 1978 in Hinsdale Illinois. He was raised in Hickory Hills Illinois attending Dorn Grade School and Conrady Jr High. His life pre-cancer was very normal. He started T-Ball, played catcher in the local little league, was always at one of his friend’s house or had many of them at ours. Mike’s life changed forever when he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in March of 1990. A normal kid became special losing his hearing to chemo and his vision indirectly to the tumor. After a lengthy fight and recovery, Mike returned to special-needs school, graduated from Stagg High School. In the years before moving in 1997 with his mom to St Paul Minnesota, Mike attended Cancer Camp in Geneva WI and went to Park City Utah where, as a blind person he learned to snow ski.
In Minneapolis, Mike attended a school for blind people. He learned braille, how to cook, had his own apartment, learned how to navigate the neighborhood along with using the public transit and joined a blind bowling league. Without the knowledge of his mom, Mike arranged transportation to Maplewood MN and did open mic “stand-up” at a comedy club!
Mike’s heart was always in Chicago. He was a diehard Cubs and Bears fan. In 2002, Mike convinced his mom that he was going to move back to Chicago. With some help, he found a residence for people like himself who wanted to be independent but needed some help. He moved to Chicago’s north side and thrived. He made friends, went with them to Cub games, navigated to a local bar for pizza, the library for audio books and went to a local bank successfully crossing a 4 lane intersection. Mike even survived being mugged one afternoon.
Mike had to move back to Wisconsin in 2013. He was starting to suffer from late effects of the treatments 30 years ago. New Richmond was Mike’s new home. Every time his mom picked him up for lunch, shopping and ice cream, he would ask to move back to Chicago. Mike moved again in May of 2019 to Ellsworth.
The remainder of Mike’s story is the sad part. In spite of the changes in his brain and body, Mike kept his humor and most of all, his smile. Mike is survived by his mother, Laura Bales Miller, Aunt Cindy and Uncles Rob and Russ, father Tom Kelly, half-brother Jimmy and many, many cousins. He is preceded in death by all of his grandparents. His final resting place will be back in Chicago. He is finally going home.
Memorials will be directed to the University of Minnesota Pediatric Oncology Survivorship Research. A Private Family Memorial Service was held Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. at First Congregational Church (110 N 3rd St.) in River Falls. Cremation Services provided by Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services.


  • Paul and Bette Ann Kelly Posted July 12, 2020 7:03 pm

    We recall many happy hours with Mike and Sean playing at Grandma Kelly’s house, and in our backyard sandbox, and shooting hoops at our basketball net. May your own happy memories ease your sadness and give you comfort.

  • Catherine Martin Posted July 15, 2020 1:31 am

    So sad to read of Mike’s passing. My sympathy to Laura and the rest of Mike’s family. I know he will be missed. Laura , you were. An awesome mom.

  • Courtney Posted July 15, 2020 2:00 am

    I cared for Mike on occasion while he was living in New Richmond. Though I knew some of his story, I had no idea he achieved so much in his life I always wished I could communicate better with him. He would sometimes crack a joke and catch me completely off guard. I am terribly sorry for your loss.

  • Jackie Justice Posted July 15, 2020 2:28 am

    Laura, my prayers & hugs are with you. I remember Mikelly (That is how he spelled his name) God is watching over him now where sickness and sorrow are no more. Remember the good times.

  • Adrienne Posted July 15, 2020 2:39 am

    Miss Mikey’s phone calls and especially being in the room listening when Russ would be on the phone with him. He was deeply loved. I think he would have enjoyed this video. Glad he was here for the win. We are here for you, Lolo, in whatever way we can be. Wish I could be there with you. Love you much, A

  • Mickie Neely (Patterson) Posted July 15, 2020 1:47 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear such sad news. Prayers for comfort and peace for your family, Laura and all those who loved him.

  • Kathleen Wettig Posted July 15, 2020 2:09 pm

    It sounds like Mike was an inspiration to many. God made him a very special person with a lot of ambition. Blessings to his mom and family.

  • Christy Polaski Posted July 15, 2020 6:54 pm

    So sorry to hear this 🙏 sending love to you and the family 😘

  • Karen Abrahamson Posted July 15, 2020 7:49 pm

    Laura -Your write up makes me feel like I knew him. What a great and adventurous guy he was and what a loving mother you were to let him explore life on his own when he could. He looks like a Bales and I love the Cubbies spirit he had! Thoughts of comfort are with you and your family .

  • Brian Heins Posted July 15, 2020 11:41 pm

    I didn’t know Mike and I don’t think I know any of his family.

    What brought me to read this page was his young age, and that we shared Ellsworth as our address.

    His obituary was nicely written and told me a lot about who he was. Of all my senses, sight is the last I would want to lose, yet this man flourished after losing his. The way he lived his life is an inspiration and a story in courage and determination.

    Many thanks and much sympathy to all of you who cared for him, loved him, and made his life full and complete.

    If ever any of you feel down, and the times we live in are certainly good for that, remember this man. If you’ve ever heard of making lemonade when life gives you lemons, Mike did that. Do as he did. Keep on keeping on.

    Best to you all, and may the Lord keep him.

  • Renee Richel Posted July 16, 2020 4:38 pm

    Laura, my prayers are with you and your family. Thank you for keeping in touch all of these years and allowing me to stay in Mike’s life, even from far away. He was so loved and he will be missed by all of us. Praying that you receive the peace that surpasses all understanding in these difficult time. Love, Renee

  • Paul and Gayle Brinkman Posted July 17, 2020 12:19 am

    We are so sorry to hear this, Laura, Cindy, Rob and Russ. I heard about Mike from your folks and they were so proud of Mike. They loved him and enjoyed being with him so very much. I know you all are suffering. Take care of each other. Love, Gayle and Paul

  • Jo-Anne and Jeff McGown Posted July 17, 2020 1:41 am

    Hi Laura. Our thoughts are with you. Mike will always be remembered and he will be missed by all who loved him. As we live in Canada, we wish we could be there with you. We are here when you need someone to talk to. We love you Cuz and we will talk soon. xoxo

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