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All the Kellys, says a friend, are "beautiful, physical people." Father Jack was a champion sculler; Grace's mother (who is of German descent) was a model, later the first woman physical education instructor at the University of Pennsylvania. Father Jack, who still takes his athletics seriously, went to England in 1920 to compete at Henley. But the Henley committee ruled that he could not compete because he had once "worked with his hands" and was therefore not a "gentleman." He went on to the Olympics, where he soundly thrashed the Henley winner, and triumphantly sent his sweaty green rowing cap to King George V of England with his compliments. The moment his son John B. Jr. ("Kell") was born in 1927, Jack resolved that he would win at Henley; he began training the boy personally at the age of seven. In 1947 Kell righted an old wrong done his family by going to Henley in the colors of the University of Pennsylvania and scoring an impressive victory for Penn and Pop.
Church & Athletics. Of the three Kelly daughters, Peggy was the oldest and a cutup, Lizanne the youngest and an extrovert. Grace, the middle one, born Nov. 12, 1929, was shy, quiet, and for years snuffled with a chronic cold. The big, 15-room house in plain East Falls, across the Schuylkill River from the Main Line, was the meeting place for the whole neighborhood. "There was a lawn out back with swings and a sandbox, a tennis court and the usual things like that," says Grace. Summers, the Kelly family had a house on the Jersey shore at Ocean City. As regularly as she marched the children to St. Bridget's Roman Catholic Church every Sunday, Mrs. Kelly marched them off to the Penn Athletic Club for workouts. "There's a certain discipline in athletic work," says Mrs. Kelly. "That's why Grace can accustom herself to routine and responsibility." Sister Peg organized home theatricals.
"Somebody else always got the lead," Grace recalls, without rancor. Even then remote and selfabsorbed, Grace used to write poetry, some serious, some "little gooney ones" that showed a neat turn of phrase. Sample, written when she was 14: I hate to see the sun go down And squeeze itself into the ground, Since some warm night it might get stuck And in the morning not get up.