ONEONTA – Caitlin Marie Kelley of Ocean Grove, N.J., passed away before the dawn on Jan. 8, 2021, at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune. She was 32 years old.
Caitlin was born on June 22, 1988, in Cooperstown, and raised in nearby Oneonta, where she graduated from Oneonta High School. She attended college first at Brookdale Community College, then at SUNY Oneonta where she studied for a career in hospitality.
She worked in the restaurant industry for 14 years, which nurtured her love of meeting new people and making many friends. In the past year she had switched career paths and looked forward to growing into a company that would treat her well.
A true extrovert, making lasting connections with others was her passion. She deeply loved her many friends and was always ready to make more. Caitlin was incredibly giving to those she knew. Being her friend meant having an ally and passionate advocate who would be at your side in a moment’s notice through thick and thin.
Caitlin is survived by her parents, Melinda Herbst Kelley and Stephen Thomas Kelley; her older brother, Brendan Kelley, his wife, Paula (Paige), his son, Nolan, and his dog, Cooper; her younger brother, Ian; her grandmother, Norma; and her pup, Sammy.
She was predeceased by her grandparents, Mary (Gammer) and Frank (Grandpa) Kelley and Herbert (Pop-pop) Herbst, and her pup, Ty.
Celebrations of life will be planned in her hometowns of Oneonta and Ocean Grove, this summer, when this damn COVID stuff lets up. In honor of Caitlin’s life, these will be celebrations filled with family, friends and mischief. We will do everything we can to invite the massive number of friends she made, but we encourage those who haven’t already to reach out to the family so that we can get in touch as we make plans.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to the Jersey Shore Arts Center, www.jerseyshoreartscenter.org/, where she worked with her family to build a place for the arts in Ocean Grove, to the Sixth Ward Athletic Club Foundation in Oneonta to support the community she loved so much. You can also support restaurant workers in her name by leaving a massive tip in her honor the next time you go out to eat, because nothing would mean more to her than to continue to help her many friends in the service industry who are struggling during the pandemic.
The Ocean Grove Memorial Home is in charge of arrangements.
To send a condolence message to the family, please visit www.oceangrovememorialhome.com.