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.