Dr. W.W. Kelly
Board of Directors: 1923-49
Team Physician: 1921-43
Along with serving as president, physician and a longtime member of the Packers’ executive committee and board of directors, Kelly also was one of the team’s biggest boosters and a friend to many players. One of the so-called Hungry Five that played a vital role in the Packers’ survival, Kelly helped organize the Green Bay Football Corporation in 1923.
He served as president when the Packers won their first NFL championship in 1929, but stepped down after one term. At the time, he also was president of Green Bay’s Board of Education and said he didn’t think he could do justice to both jobs. Still, he was one of the most influential figures in the organization for 27 years. To illustrate how well-liked Kelly was by the players, they presented him with an engraved wristwatch after they won the 1929 title. On the back, it read, “Dr. W.W. Kelly, President of the Packer football team, National Champions 1929, From the Boys.”
“Dr. Kelly’s strong point was psychiatry,” Fred Leicht, who served on the Packers’ board of directors from 1935 to 1977, once said. “He could pick up a player who wasn’t so good, talk to him and put that fire back in him.”
Kelly was elected to the Green Bay Football Corporation’s original five-man executive committee and 15-member board of directors on Sept. 17, 1923. He served on the executive committee until the Packers emerged from receivership and reorganized in 1935, and then later sat for another stint on the executive committee of the newly named Green Bay Packers, Inc.
Kelly remained on the board of directors until he announced his resignation in December 1949, less than a month after he and others tried to oust Curly Lambeau as head coach. Kelly was elected president of the Packers on Aug. 1, 1929, and served until June 13, 1930. Even after he resigned, Kelly continued to serve the NFL as a member of its executive committee from 1930 to 1933.
Born Dec. 7, 1875, in Kingston, Jamaica, British West Indies. Given name William Webber Kelly. He was a practicing physician in Green Bay for nearly 50 years after earning his medical degree at Bishop’s College (now part of McGill University) in Montreal. Died April 3, 1951, at age 75.
- By Cliff Christl