In Memoriam


In Memory of

Michael Kelly

January 11, 2019


Michael Kelly lost his fight against cancer — but he never lost sight of his dream of becoming a Port Authority police officer, colleagues said Wednesday.

Scores of Port Authority police officers and Port Authority police recruits turned out at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Point Pleasant, N.J., to give a final salute to the former corrections officer and bartender who had dreamed of becoming a Port Authority cop.

As department chiefs stood shoulder to shoulder with rank-and-file officers to salute Kelly, the PAPD’s Pipe and Drum band played as the recruit’s casket was carried out of the church to an awaiting hearse.

Kelly, 31, had joined the Port Authority Police Academy in 2017 — part of the department’s 115th class — when he was diagnosed with colon cancer.

He got a medical deferral because he needed emergency colon surgery, but worked on his recovery.

After getting a clean bill of health, he joined the 117th Port Authority Academy class in October.

But, after just four days of academy training, his cancer returned and he was hospitalized. He remained under a doctor’s care until Friday, when he died at Mount Sinai Hospital, colleagues said.

“Recruit Michael Kelly was a dedicated, hardworking recruit who never gave up on his dream of becoming a Port Authority police officer,” said Port Authority Police Superintendent Edward Cetnar Wednesday. “He set a lasting example for our future recruits to follow.”

As he fought his illness, his classmates — without any prompting from their instructors — raised over $7,000 through donations and the selling T-shirts memorializing a man who wouldn’t let go of his dream, officials said.

After seeing the support sparked by the recruits, the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association also donated $10,000 for Kelly’s medical bills, which will now go to his family.

“He showed amazing strength, courage and determination fighting his illness and returning to the academy,” Port Authority PBA President Paul Nunziato. “He set the bar high for all and will always be honored and never forgotten."

Kelly worked as a corrections officer for Ocean County, N.J., and obtained a criminal justice degree from Kean University.

The avid Yankees and Jets fan was also widely known as “everyone’s favorite bartender at Martell’s Tiki bar” in Point Pleasant Beach, according to his online obituary.

He is survived by his parents Michael and Kelly Kelly, his sister Gabrielle and paternal grandfather Joseph Traenor.


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Last modified: Thursday, January 31, 2019 10:42:55 AM