Saturday, 12 September 2015

Remembering William B Kelley

In case anyone asks who is Chen Ooi to me, let me say here that we grew up together in George Town, Penang. As a small kid, he was looked after and accepted as a godson of my paternal grandparents. Technically, he became a god-uncle to me although he was only two years older than I. In the early 70s, he left for further studies in the United States, and he remained there, finding work as a designer. But we kept in touch intermittently. In those days before the Internet, our own way to communicate was by letters and postcards. Maybe we exchanged New Year wishes once a year.

My family was aware of Ooi's relationship with Bill Kelley. Consequently, I was never one to harbour any prejudices about anyone's personal preferences in lifestyle. In fact, my family was always excited whenever Ooi and Bill came visiting Malaysia to visit his aged mother. These were the only times I could ever get to see him in person.

When Bill passed away in May this year, I was rather devastated. My first thoughts were for my Uncle Ooi and without a nary, I made an inter-continental telephone call to him. I had to talk to him, albeir briefly. But I think it was around three o'clock in the middle of the night in Chicago.

This video was filmed during the memorial service for Bill Kelley on the first of August, 2015. If it proves too long, perhaps it can be fast-forwarded to the 1:43:00 mark and wait for Ooi to speak. As befits someone who had been Bill's constant companion for more than 30 years, Ooi spoke with such heartfelt feelings. I felt it here in Penang when I watched him.

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