COLUMBIANA, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Percy M. Kelty, Jr., 96, formerly of Boardman, died Monday, June 29, 2020 at St. Mary’s Alzheimer’s Center, another of the valuable, still vibrant lives lost to the devastation of COVID-19.
Percy was born on November 16, 1923, a son of the late Percy and Hazel (Westover) Kelty, in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, a town he loved.
Percy graduated from Lincoln High School and shortly afterward, enlisted in the United States Army Air Force. During his World War II service, Percy trained as a bomber pilot until his officers discovered his talent for taking pictures and made him an aerial photographer. He flew on many pre-bombing and bombing runs, equally dangerous missions.
After his honorable discharge, he moved to Youngstown, where he attended YSU.
Soon, his skill and experience, honed during the war years, landed him his dream job as the industrial photographer for Youngstown Sheet & Tube. In Perc’s photos, the drama of making steel comes to life. Many of his promotional photos for YS&T won prizes in National and International photography exhibits. Perc created yearly YS&T calendars that were sent to thousands of customers and employees and he prided himself on his portraits of YS&T executives, in which, as he said, “everyone looked good.”
On September 17, 1977, the president of YS&T sent Perc to New York, where he was to hand deliver sealed letters to several media outlets. “Don’t open any,” he was cautioned. Perc’s curiosity drove him to disobey before he left town. What he read horrified him. The letter detailed the event we call Black Monday: YSS & T would close the majority of its operations at the Campbell Works, idling 5,000 workers. It was the end of an era. After the closing, Perc freelanced and worked at S&T’s Chicago facility, but he missed “his” mills. Photography was Percy’s passion and although the mills were dirty and noisy, he loved them and the people who worked there.
Percy shared his life with his wife, Dr. Jean McClure Kelty, who died in 2003. Together they worked for the good of our community, turning their mutual love of animals into Animal Charity of Ohio. Perc supported Jean’s creation of the Victorian Players, where he enjoyed acting, although he often wrote his lines on his hand. As a member of the Youngstown Torch Club, he delivered talks on photography, his war years and espionage.
Percy leaves behind a loving circle of friends who have already begun to share their memories of him. He also leaves a wealth of history in his photographs, which can be seen at the Youngstown Museum of Industry and Labor.
Per his wishes, there will be no services or calling hours.
Arrangements are by the Davidson-Becker Funeral Home in Struthers. Please visit www.beckerobits.com to send condolences.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Percy M. Kelty, please visit our floral store.
A television tribute will air Thursday, July 2, at the following approximate times: 5:17 a.m. on WKBN, 8:39 a.m. on FOX, 5:21 p.m. on WYTV and 6:35 p.m. on MyYTV.