Christopher M. Kelly, M. D.

 Page 615-616 -Christopher M. Kelly, M. D. After more than thirty-five years of faithful and able stewardship in the work of his profession in Grand Rapids, Dr. Kelly is now living virtually retired in this city, where he has his attractive home at 228 Morris avenue, southeast. He long controlled a large and representative general practice though he specialized in surgery during the latter ten years. He held the chair of surgery for five years at the Grand Rapids Medical College, during which time the first surgical clinic was installed in this city, which he was largely instrumental in bringing about. He has gained place as one of the prominent physicians and surgeons of Kent county and even in his retirement he is not able to refrain from responding at times to the insistent calls made upon him by many families to whom he has long been physician, guide, counselor and friend. Dr. Kelly was born at Collinsville, Connecticut, July 19, 1863, and is a son of Christopher and Eliza (Morris) Kelly, who were born and reared in Ireland, where their marriage was solemnized and whence they came to the United States in 1848, this voyage, one a sailing vessel, having been their virtual bridal tour. Both were representatives of fine old Scotch, English and Irish families, Mrs. Kelly having been of direct kinship with the Blackburns of Dublin, and in this line her grandfather having been Lord Mayor Blackburn of Dublin. Her father, Captain William Morris, was for many years an officer in the English army and was later pensioned for his efficient service. Upon coming to the United States, Christopher Kelly and his young wife established their residence in Connecticut, and when the Civil war began Mr. Kelly volunteered for service in defense of the Union, he having been rejected for such direct military service by reason of his defective eyesight. He was able to do his part, however, by taking a position in the great Colt arms manufactory at Hartford, Connecticut, where he assisted in the production of firearms and other supplies for the Union forces in the field, he having in this connection become a close friend of Colonel Samuel Colt, the founder of the celebrated Colt manufactory of firearms, and on the death of Colonel Colt, Mr. Kelly was chosen as one among all the factory employes to act as pall-bearer. Mr. Kelly was for sixty years a well-known and highly respected citizen of Ansonia, Connecticut, where he and his wife passed the closing years of their earnest and worthy lives, their son Dr. Christopher Morris Kelly, of this review, having been the seventh in order of birth in a family of five sons and five daughters. The early education of Dr. Kelly was acquired in the public schools of Ansonia, Connecticut, and in the high school at Derby, that state. Thereafter he took a literary course in St. John’s College at Fordham, and in preparation for his chosen profession he finally entered Niagara University, Buffalo, New York, in the medical department of which he was graduated in 1887. This department later became merged with the Buffalo University of which alumni Dr. Kelly is a member. Before and after receiving his degree of doctor of medicine Dr. Kelly passed four years in hospital work in Buffalo, and in this service, prior to his graduation, he largely defrayed the expenses of his professional education. He was an ambulance surgeon with the hospital there conducted by the Sisters of Charity, and his hospital work did much to fortify him for the independent practice of his profession. He was also for a time a resident physician in the Providence Insane Retreat of Buffalo, New York. He registered for practice in the state of New York, but soon afterward, in 1890, set forth with a party of friends to visit Mackinac Island, Michigan. Enroute they stopped in Grand Rapids, and as a severe epidemic of lagrippe was here raging at the time and there was imperative need for additional physicians to meet the insistent demands, Dr. Kelly was called upon for professional service, with the result that he loyally and gladly abandoned his trip to Mackinac in order to aid in combating the epidemic in Grand Rapids. That he was favorably impressed with the city needs no further voucher than the fact that he has here maintained his home during the long intervening period. He here built up a large and important general practice to which he continued to give his attention nearly thirty years, his retirement from the active work of his profession having occurred in the year 1919. He gained place as one of the leading surgeons in western Michigan, and at Butterworth hospital he made the first appendicitis operation in the city of Grand Rapids, besides which, in the domain of obstetrics, he performed also the first Caesarian operation in this city. He specialized in surgery and performed many major operations of most delicate order, as well as all manner of minor operations. He developed a great improvement in the process of skin grafting, especially in the utilizing of the skin of the patient for such transference, and he was distinctly "far ahead of his time" in many of the innovations and improved methods he adopted in his surgical work. His professional stewardship was ever one of high ethical ideals and of earnest service. He did much to aid the upbuilding of Grand Rapids hospitals, and was retained as consulting physician at Butterworth hospital and the Emerson home. He was the first physician of the House of the Good Shepherd, he assisted in the establishing and opening of St. Mary’s hospital, in which he served as surgeon a number of years, and he found special satisfaction in aiding the training of young physicians and also nurses. He performed the first operation of this institution and the first maternity case there was one of his patients. He also took charge of St. John’s Orphan asylum during an epidemic of diphtheria before the days of anti-toxin treatment, and was obliged to close his office to private practice until this epidemic was successfully wiped out. In 1892 he served as city physician of Grand Rapids. Dr. Kelly is an active member of the Kent County Medical Society, the Michigan State Medical Society and the American Medical Association. In 1903 he made a trip abroad, where he spent a year in study and in availing himself of the advantages of the leading hospitals and clinics of Europe. Dr. Kelly and his wife are communicants of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church and are prominent in social circles of the city. In 1910 he was united in marriage with Miss Theresa Kelly, of Montreal Canada, she having previously been graduated in the training school for nurses maintained in connection with St. Joseph’s hospital at Yonkers, New York. Dr. and Mrs. Kelly have one son, Christopher Morris Blackburn Kelly.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 30 December 2002