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