Cover photo for Hugh James Kelley's Obituary
Hugh James Kelley Profile Photo
1950 Hugh 2022

Hugh James Kelley

January 29, 1950 — August 21, 2022

On August 21, 2022, Hugh Kelley departed this life at the age of 72. At his side during his final days in Atlanta were his wife, Elizabeth “Libby” Cates, her son David Cates, Geshe Ngawang Phende, their Buddhist teacher and kindred family member, and many other beloved Tibetan Buddhist teachers and dear friends.


Hugh’s humble presence understated his active engagement with his greatest passions. He was deeply committed to his Tibetan Buddhist community. He was a scholar of American history and WWII, skilled at connecting the past to an understanding of the present. He loved the Red Sox and the Rolling Stones, as well as the singer/songwriter Iris DeMent, traveling enthusiastically to many of their games and concerts. He could quote every line of his favorite movie, Casablanca.  


Hugh was born in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1950 to George and Charlotte Kelley, who pre-decease him. In addition to Hugh’s Atlanta family, he is survived by his siblings Karen Wishart (Richard), Gregory Kelley (Marian), and Matthew Kelley (Karen). Hugh also had three adult daughters, Keegan Kelley, Caitlin Kelley, and Bronwyn Kelley.


Hugh completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia, where he was an Echols Scholar, after which he received an MBA from Emory University. In 1986 he launched the Social Responsibility Investment Group to offer opportunities for individuals to be part of a growing national movement for collective good. Hugh’s horizons continued to expand as he and Libby traveled the world together, enjoying many international cityscapes as well as some of the most remote regions on earth.


Hugh will be remembered for his integrity, his intelligence, his sense of humor, his good heart, and his gentle spirit. He met every challenge he faced with grace and courage, particularly his final one. All who love and know Hugh pray for his peaceful journey as he travels on. So, in parting, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”


A private Buddhist prayer ceremony will be held in Hugh’s honor. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to Drepung Loseling Monastery at <https://www.drepung.org/>,

or the charity of your choice.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Hugh James Kelley, please visit our flower store.

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