Obituary of Robert Kellard
Robert L. (Bob) Kellard, whom everyone knew as Bobby Kay, died on April 3, 2017. Bob was born on June 13, 1943 in Queens, New York. A long time resident of DeLand,FL Bob moved here when DeLand became the headquarters of Cole Bros. Circus in the 1980’s. He grew up in Massapequa Park, NY on Long Island at a time when Rock-a-Billy and in particular, Rock-n-Roll was in its infancy and growing in popularity. Bob loved this new music so much that he bought his first guitar at 14 years old after saving enough money from his first job, a taxi dispatcher in nearby Farmingdale, NY. He learned to play both Rock and Country music and he was gifted with a fine, baritone voice. Bob became a talented drummer and rhythm guitar player who could also sing both lead and back-up vocals, and finding work became easier. In 1965 Bob was asked to be a member of a band called The Disciples. This was at a time when thousands of good, hard working bands were competing for that big break, a recording contract with a “big label” record company. That big break came in 1966 when The Disciples recorded their first 45-rpm release, “I Want You Girl.” The B-side was Bobby Kay singing his arrangement of an old standard, “Sunshine.” Bobby Kay was now on the verge of becoming a teenage idol. And at the same time our country was ramping up for the Vietnam War; Mr. Kellard, Uncle Sam wants you!
Bob served his country in the U. S. Army during the Vietnam Era and was honorably discharged in 1968. The recording achieved only limited success and The Disciples soon disbanded. Always enjoying the entertainment industry Bob landed a position in the advertising department of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In 1975 Bob was hired as a Marketing Director with the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus, forerunner of the DeLand based Cole Bros. Circus and continued with them as Senior Marketing Director until his retirement in 2010.
With his welcoming personality and humorous wit, Bobby Kay was fun to be with. He was always ready to sit-in with the band as a drummer or stand up and sing one of the many tunes he remembered from his days as a performer. He made friends wherever he went. When he walked into newspaper offices around the country while working for the circus, the unmistakable sound of his voice talking to the receptionist would often bring the Entertainment Editor out of his office to greet him.
Among those Bob left to remember him are his brother Kenneth Kellard and wife Barbara in Clearwater, FL; niece Barbara Brian and her husband Steve now living in New Hampshire; niece Lori Tzigos and her husband Michael in Clearwater; numerous grandnieces, grandnephews, friends and circus friends here and around the country that he met during his travels. Bob will be buried in the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, with arrangements being made by Lankford Funeral Home & Crematory in DeLand. At Bob’s request there will be no funeral or viewing. Instead he preferred that relatives and friends gather and celebrate his life. We will meet on Thursday, April 20th at 7:00 PM at the Airport Restaurant and Gin Mill at 1120 Airport Terminal Dr. in DeLand. All are welcome to reminisce and share memories of their brother, uncle or friend whom we will miss.