John Lincoln Kelley (Big John), beloved father of Michelle Anne Kelley-Caswell and Colleen Erin Kelley of Standish, passed away Monday Aug. 3, 2020.
Born in Chicago, Ill., on May, 21, 1938, he was educated at St. John’s Preparatory School, Louisiana State University and the United States Army. John was stationed at the Jungle Warfare Training Facility in Panama, where he also met and married Barbara (Bunchy) Gegg-Kelley. His younger years were split between Hodge, La., and Lamoine, where he was either hunting, fishing or swimming in Frenchman Bay with the family, finally settling in Bangor in the ’50s.
After various jobs including construction, well drilling and selling insurance, John opened Big John’s Lobster Pot in Brewer, where he gained an amazing education as a cook (plus a little weight) and never looked back. He worked at Tripp’s Restaurant in Bar Harbor and then at The Log Cabin Restaurant in Hulls Cove as their executive chef for many years. His winters were spent working at restaurants and clubs around the West Palm Beach area in Florida, where he spent just as much time fishing as he did cooking. John retired from working for his daughter Colleen at Silly’s Restaurant in Portland just three years ago.
Big John was bigger than life and will always be remembered for his infectious smile, his gift of telling a story that will make you laugh until your ribs hurt and his amazing barbecue ribs. His “colorful” life was filled to the brim with a loving family, great friends, amazing food and a penchant for riding the roads looking for every hot dog stand along the way.
Big John was predeceased by his parents, Charles Lintott and Merle Selma (Lincoln) Kelley; his children’s mother, Barbara “Bunchy” Gegg-Kelley, and his best friends, Alfred Haskell and Paul Connor. He is survived by his children, Michelle Anne Kelley-Caswell, her husband, Mark R. Caswell, and Colleen Erin Kelley; brothers, Charles L. Kelley Jr. of Ellsworth, T. Michael Kelley and his wife, Beth, of Port Townsend, Wash., Edward Kelley and his wife, Barbara, of North Carolina, and Joseph Kelley of Florida; cousins, Theodore and Mary Merle Laborde of New Orleans, La., and his wonderful nieces, nephews and their children.
A celebration of his life will be held in Lamoine in September. Please email [email protected] for details.
In lieu of flowers, Big John’s family recommends you make a contribution to your local hunting and fishing conservation organizations in his memory.