Joseph M. Kelley, Jr., 89, died Sunday (February 17, 2019).
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He was born in Baltimore, MD December 10, 1929 and attended Loyola College in Maryland where he obtained a BS degree in Chemistry. He then attended Fordham University where he obtained MS and PhD degrees in Chemistry. He also studied at NYU where he was awarded a degree in Chemical Engineering. In 1955 he married Margaret Joan Bradish, his wife of 56 years in Glendale, California. In the same year he joined the Esso Research and Engineering Company, Chemical Research Division as a research chemist in polyolefins. He moved from New York City to Cranford NJ, then to Westfield NJ where he resided for over 60 years. In 1961 he joined Rexall Chemical Company to form a group to do laboratory research and process development of polyolefins. The company was a joint venture between Rexall Drug, the newly formed chemical company and El Paso Natural Gas to develop processes for polypropylene and high-pressure polyethylene, as well as polystyrene and ABS. As a result of this research several commercial polyolefin processes were developed. The high-pressure polyethylene process was licensed to Nippon Oil Company, UBE industries in Japan and Exxon in the US. The polypropylene process was licensed to Nigerian Oil Company, Bay Industries, and a Japanese Subsidiary of Exxon. The Rexall laboratories and high-pressure pilot plant were established in Paramus New Jersey. Commercial high-pressure polyethylene and polypropylene plants were built in Odessa Texas and an ABS plant was built in Joliet Illinois. For the next decade Dr. Kelley’s time was spent traveling between Texas, New Jersey, Illinois and Japan. Technical support was provided to licensees in the form of technology transfer and providing R&D to improve the processes. Dr. Kelley was promoted to VP of R&D with responsibility for the companies Paramus and Odessa R&D laboratories, with the Paramus laboratories and personnel ultimately being transferred to Odessa. At this point he established his own consulting business in polyolefin and chlorine dioxide chemistry. His initial polyolefin assignment was with a group from Detroit Plastic Molding Company to select and build a polypropylene plant. The Mitsui process for polypropylene was selected and the plant was completed at Marysville Michigan and produced polypropylene at the specification design rates. He worked with International Dioxide in chlorine dioxide chemistry. He developed a process for a product called “stabilized chlorine dioxide”, and was co-inventor of a slow process for producing large quantities of chlorine dioxide gas by the reaction of chlorine gas with a solution of sodium chlorite. International Dioxide was eventually sold to the DuPont Co. He holds numerous patents assigned to Exxon, Dart, Rexall, International Dioxide and his own company.
He and his wife enjoyed traveling and visited over 42 countries and enjoyed playing golf and tennis. He was predeceased by his wife, Margaret in December 2011.
He is survived by loving children, James (Janis) Kelley MA, CT, Steven Kelley, NJ and Susan (George) Stevenson, NY, and four grandchildren whom he loved dearly, Shannon Kelley, Gina Kelley, Brendan Stevenson and Weston Stevenson.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate any donations to the Margaret Bradish Endowed Chemistry Scholarship, Mount St. Mary’s College, 10 Chester Place, Los Angeles, CA 90007-2518.
Dr. Kelley and his family would like to extend special thanks to his caregiver Katerina for her many years of dedicated service.
Private arrangements are by Dooley Colonial Home in Westfield.