Ralph Kelley

Obituary of Ralph Edward Kelley

Ralph Edward Kelley, 92, of Alexandria, Virginia, died March 4, 2023. Born March 6, 1930, in Greenville, South Carolina, Ralph was the son of Ralph Kelley and Jeannette Sullivan Kelley. He is survived by his wife, Martha Griffith Kelley, and three children, Mary Jeannette Kelley (Andrew Schulman), David Griffith Kelley (Kathleen), and Robert Tyler Kelley (Emily Prince), and 4 grandchildren.

Ralph graduated from Furman University with a B.A. in Music (1950) and a B.S. in Physics (1955). He earned an M.S. (1957) and a Ph.D. (1960) from the University of Virginia in Physics. After graduation, he worked for the Research Labs in Engineering Sciences at the University of Virginia.  In 1966 he started his career with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), selecting and funding basic research in atomic and molecular physics until his retirement in 2002. His program at AFOSR funded Nobel Prize winning research in physics.

Music was an important part of Ralph’s life. As a young man, he was hired to sing in the choir of Christ Episcopal Church in Greenville, and he served as pianist for the Greenville Symphony in its early years. Later in life, he was a dedicated member of the choir at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Annandale, Virginia, and he enjoyed making music with his children. He loved math and puzzles: when the Rubik’s Cube was introduced in the 1980s, Ralph developed his own system of algorithms to solve the puzzle and taught his children and their friends his system so they could solve the cube themselves. 

Funeral services will be held at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Annandale, Virginia, at 11:00 AM on April 15. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to:

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church
6800 Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA  22003


Goodwin House Foundation/Hospice
4800 Fillmore Ave
Alexandria, VA  22311

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Memorial Service

11:00 am
Saturday, April 15, 2023
St. Alban's Episcopal Church
6800 Columbia Pike
Annandale, Virginia, United States