A memorial service will be held Tuesday for longtime teacher and counselor John Joseph Kiely, who was a descendant of Santa Clara's prominent Kiely family.

Mr. Kiely died Nov. 14 at his Los Gatos home in the Santa Cruz Mountains after a long battle with leukemia. He was 79.

One of nine children, he was born March 18, 1933, to grocer William P. and Elaine Kiely. The Kiely family originally left Ireland during the potato famine, then settled in Australia before immigrating to California.

Mr. Kiely grew up in the family mansion on Homestead Road. Known today as the Kiely House, this circa-1889 Queen Anne Victorian is listed on historical tour guides of Santa Clara. In the 1950s, the home was used as a boardinghouse for students attending Bellarmine College Preparatory.

Mr. Kiely's father was a former mayor of Santa Clara, and Kiely Boulevard is named for him. His brother William P. Kiely Jr. also served for years on the City Council.

After graduating from Bellarmine and Santa Clara University, Mr. Kiely embarked on a long teaching career. He taught English and drama at Santa Clara High School for 33 years. In 1992, he earned an MFCC (Marriage, Family and Child Counseling) license and launched a second career.

He was also involved with the Serra Club, a Catholic vocation group, St. Mary's Church and Holy Family's New Horizons program.

Mr. Kiely is survived by his wife of 17 years, Carole; his two children, Kate Kiely and Daniel Kiely: three stepdaughters, Melissa Burke, Julia Selfridge and Marya Ruiz; and three grandchildren, Henry, Freddy and Josie.


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Tuesday's memorial will start at 11 a.m. at St. Mary's Church, 219 Bean Ave. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.