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3000 E. Third Street
Bloomington, IN 47401
Phone: 812-333-4400
Fax: 812-333-4445
William Kelsey

William Michael "Mike " Kelsey

Thursday, March 29th, 1945 - Thursday, July 11th, 2019
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William Michael “Mike” Kelsey, 74, died Thursday, July 11th, at Bloomington Hospital following a brief illness. He died peacefully, surrounded by family.
Mike was born in Indianapolis, the oldest child of William E. and Kathleen B. Kelsey, and grew up in Evansville and Arcadia (Hamilton County), Indiana. He graduated from Jackson Central High School in 1963, then, enrolled at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he earned degrees in political science and classical Japanese literature.
While still an undergraduate, he was drafted into the army and sent to Vietnam. After returning to IU he helped found an organization called Vietnam Veterans against the War.
Mike had a number of occupations over his lifetime. He was a journalist, professor of Japanese language and literature, editor/writer, technical translator/industrial interpreter, and compositor/typesetter. He was for many years involved with WFHB Community Radio, mostly as a volunteer, and was probably best known as the host of Old Time Train 45 on Saturday morning; he was the founder, producer, chief script writer and co-host of the WFHB Firehouse Follies variety show, enabling him to combine his love of comedy, music, and especially writing.
Over the years the Kelsey family lived in a number of places: Illinois, Minnesota, Japan, and since 1987 Bloomington, Indiana.
Mike loved cooking, gardening, and IU basketball, and hoped in retirement to write a book on Japanese mythology. He was a loyal member of the Grouch Club, old guys who like to drink beer and make observations about life. His family appreciated his sense of humor and considered him the granddaddy of the dad joke. While pursuing his interests, he endured and, in so far as possible, ignored the increasing pain and disability caused by peripheral neuropathy.
He is survived by his wife, Linda (married in 1966), his sister Marybeth Kelsey (Terry Walter) of Bloomington, daughter Leah McLaughlin (Patrick) of Goose Creek, South Carolina, and son Joel (Alice) of Silver Spring, Maryland, both of whom are grateful to him for their red hair and ability to sunburn in seconds, grandchildren, Jonas and Beatrice Kelsey of Silver Spring, four cousins, and three nephews.
A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, August 24th, 3-7 p.m. at the Upland Brewpub, 350 West 11th Street, Bloomington, in conjunction with the Firehouse Follies on Sunday, August 25th, 4-6 p.m., at the Waldron Auditorium.
In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the Friends of the Follies, WFHB Community Radio, or the charity of one’s choice.
The Funeral Chapel of Powell and Deckard in Bloomington is handling arrangements.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Saturday, August 24th, 2019 | 3:00pm - 7:00pm
    Saturday, August 24th, 2019 3:00pm - 7:00pm
    Upland Brewpub
    350 W. 11th Street
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Private Condolence

Ed Franklin

Posted at 11:50am
Dear Linda, Marybeth, and family......I am so saddened to hear of Mike's passing. He and I met in the summer of '63 and were roommates in the fall semester--the beginning of a long friendship. Even though we had not met face-to-face for 45 years of so, when I found him on Facebook our conversation picked up as if the interval was a few days. I will never forget our bull sessions nor our bridge games. He challenged me intellectually, politically, and personally; he was a real friend. I hope you all take comfort in knowing that his memory lives on as does his positive influence on this world.

Ed Franklin

Patrick Inglefield

Posted at 12:19pm
Mike and I were part of a group who used have brunch together every week. I was always impressed by Mike's knowledge, intelligence and good nature. He kept going in spite of his medical problems and disabilities. I'll miss him a lot.
Patrick Inglefield

Eric Ford

Posted at 09:51pm
Col. Mike Kelsey was a man I counted as a friend. He was a kind, generous, and forgiving mentor as I made my way into community radio. My show,Roots For Breakfast, was followed by his juggernaut classic Old Time Train 45. Every tape I made of my show I wouldn't stop until I heard his introduction with that fiddle mimicking a steam engine. For my love of roots music, I owe the Col. so much. I remember he'd quietly walk in the Firehouse studio with his canvas shopping bag, set up his show, comment on my set, ask about my newlywed wife, my new born daughters, and never stopped checking in. He was a good man and a role model.
It's a bitter disappointment that I learned so much from his obituary that I never learned in life. I wish we could have had more conversations.
I will really miss you Mike. You were a part of Bloomington that made it my home.

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