Raymond L. "Ray" Kelso, Jr.

Apr 17 1928
Nov 11 2020
92 Years

Raymond Laurence “Ray” Kelso, Jr., passed away peacefully at home in Martin’s Corner, West Caln Township, as was his wish, on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2020, in his 93rd year.  He was born at home on 414 Chestnut Street in Coatesville, PA in 1928 to Raymond L. Kelso Sr. and Norah M. Walpole.  His mother had emigrated from England in 1913, when she was 6 years old, joining her father, who was head of the Lukens Steel Company police force in Coatesville.

As a child, Ray was a member of the Coatesville Boy Scout troop and enjoyed summer excursions to Camp Horseshoe, near Rising Sun, Maryland.  He and his parents also vacationed at Crystal Beach, Maryland and Atlantic City, New Jersey.  He and his buddy Dick Baldanzi once enjoyed a thrilling ride on a barnstormer aircraft that visited the neighborhood, without informing their mothers ahead of time.

As soon as he turned 18, Ray signed up with the US Army, entering service in September of 1946 and postponing his senior year of High School (he was inspired by his own father’s Army service with the Blue Ridge Division in WWII, including his capture at the Battle of the Bulge and subsequent POW status as a prisoner of the Nazis).  He served with the Regimental Headquarters Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, in the US Occupation of Japan Forces, helping to rebuild that nation.  He separated from service in June of 1948 as a Radio Operator, having operated both voice and code radio transmitter and receiver sets.  Upon returning home to Coatesville in 1948, he commuted to Ben Franklin High School in Philadelphia with his friend Harold Barnes, so that they could complete the 1947 senior year that they missed at Coatesville High School.  At night he sliced and wrapped bread in the Capital Bakery in Westwood, PA.

Nerissa Lehmer was working on her RN degree at the Polyclinic Hospital in Harrisburg, PA and had a temporary assignment at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Coatesville in 1949, where she worked with Harold Barnes' girlfriend Betty. It was Harold and Betty who set Ray and Nerissa up on a blind date. They soon fell in love and were engaged so that they could marry before Ray shipped off to Korea for a second volunteer Army tour of duty in 1950.   They married at the Episcopal Church of the Trinity in Coatesville, and recently celebrated a wonderful 70-Year Anniversary in August of 2020.

Having volunteered to rejoin the Army for the fight in Korea, Ray spent 21 months in-country with the 25th Signal Company/25th Infantry Division “Tropic Lightning” Unit.  He was awarded the Korean Service Medal with 3 bronze campaign stars, and was proud to have helped liberate the South Koreans.

In 1963 Ray and Nerissa built their home in Martin's Corner, West Caln Township, and raised their family.  With son Fred, Ray was once again involved in the Boy Scouts, this time with Hibernia Troop 116.  They also enjoyed working together unravelling their family history.

Ray retired as a Switchman from The Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania in 1986 after 32 years (16 at the Evergreen Central Office in Philadelphia and 16 at the West Chester office).

Ray and Nerissa shared a love of nature, animals, and local history, and both were involved with the Friends of Hibernia and with the organization of the West Caln Historical Society, assisting with the creation of the History of West Caln Township: 1744 – 1994.

Ray is survived by his wife Nerissa and son Fred Kelso (Becky Neal), along with grandchildren Neal and Sarah Kelso.

Graveside Services will take place at 2:00 PM on Friday, November 20, 2020 at Fairview Cemetery, 786 Oak St, Coatesville, PA 19320. 

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Wilde Funeral Home of Parkesburg. Online Condolences can be made at www.wildefuneralhome.com 

In Lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Ray's honor to https://giving.apps.upenn.edu/fund?program=MC&fund=604304&appeal=PMWEB

Service Date: 
Nov 20 2020 - 2:00pm
Service Location: 
Fairview Cemetery, 786 Oak St, Coatesville, PA 19320.


We are so sorry for your loss.  Ray was a great guy and a good friend to us.    We will pray for him and his family.  My husband Jules worked as a swithcman with Ray at 3810 Chestnut St. in Philly for many years.   I worked on another floor as a long distance supervising operator and knew Ray very well.  We have always been very thankful for Ray's donation of freah blood for our twins sons.  Ray and Jim Longacre were the two Bell switchman who went out of their way to go to Nazerath Hospital in NE Philly the day our boys were born incase a blood transfusion was needed for them on July 9, 1969.  

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I am so sorry to hear about Mr.Kelso . I work at Brandywine Valley Veterinary where we took care of his beloved kitties! It was always a joy to talk with him and his wife ! Just last week I thought of him wondering how he was doing and was unable to contact him : (  Prayers to his family.


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In memory of my wonderful dad. Even though we were estranged , I love you dearly. My memories of my life with you are the best things of my life. You were always my rock, my protector and my biggest influence. Always there to pick up the pieces when I fell. I will miss you and love you everyday for the rest of my life. I am proud to have been your daughter. The world have lost a great man. Rest in peace Daddy. I love you. Your daughter, Terri  

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I'm so very sorry for your loss. Ray was a great man. I worked with Ray at the West Chester central office for several years. He always made things interesting. My heartfelt sympathies to his wife and family. He will be missed. 🙏🏻

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I was saddened to hear of Ray's passing and enlighted by reading this moving tribute to him.

I remember as a child spending many evenings with our families -sparklers on 4th of July and New Year's eve watching TV.

May he rest in peace and may you all be comforted by love of family and friends. 

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Condolences to Nerissa, Fred and their entire family.  Ray and Nerissa were very good friends with my family when I lived in Martins Corner.  I have many fond memories of our time together. Fred and my son, Mark Reynolds, are still very close even though they live on opposite sides of the country. Ray was a very intelligent individuaI and could converse on a wide variety of subjects. He will be missed by all those that knew him.

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