Margaret Katherine Kelly (Majer)

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Margaret Katherine Kelly (Majer)

Also Known As: "Ma"
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: January 06, 1990 (91)
Linwood, Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States
Place of Burial: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Charles Titus Majer; Carl Majer; Margaretha Majer and Martha Majer
Wife of John Brendan Kelly, Sr.
Mother of Margaret Conlan (Kelly); John Brendan Kelly, Jr.; Grace Kelly; Elizabeth Anne LeVine and Mary Ellen Kelly
Sister of Carl Tituts Majer, Jr. and Bruno Majer

Occupation: Member of Philadelphia School Board, Member of Women's Auxiliary and Board of Corporators for Women's Medical College of Philadelphia, Chairperson of Development Program of Women's Medical College of Philadelphia, Board Member of Moss, Instructor in Phys
Managed by: Joseph William Thomas
Last Updated:

About Margaret Katherine Kelly (Majer)

Margaret Katherine Kelly was an American Instructor of physical education for women and first coach of women's teams at the University of Pennsylvania. She was the wife of John B. Kelly Sr., three-time Olympic Gold Medal winner in rowing, and mother of Grace Kelly, actress and princess consort of Monaco, and of John B. Kelly Jr., an accomplished rower. She also a maternal grandmother of Albert II, Prince of Monaco.

Margaret Katherine Majer was born on December 13, 1898 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of German immigrants, Carl Majer (1863-1922) and Margaretha Berg (1870-1949). Margaret and her two siblings grew up in the Strawberry Mansion section of the city. Margaret went to school at William Penn High School for Girls with the Great-Grandmother of the Fine Brothers. Margaret, an outstanding athlete, excelled in intercollegiate swimming as an undergraduate at Temple University. Her beauty brought her jobs as a model and cover girl.

After earning her B.A. from Temple University in 1921, Majer succeeded Ethel Loring as instructor in Physical Education for Women at the University of Pennsylvania's College for Women. She led the undergraduate women in athletic pursuits at the Kingsessing facility used as a gymnasium by Penn's female students. While teaching at Penn, Majer became the first coach of women's athletic teams at the university, organizing and training a women's basketball team and scheduling the first intercollegiate competitions for women. The women's basketball team played eight opponents in its first year, including Bryn Mawr College, Drexel University, and Temple University. Teams in gymnastics, softball, swimming, and tennis were planned for the next year. Majer also led a successful fundraising campaign to build women's tennis courts on what, for a few years, was a vacant lot on the southeast corner of Thirty-Fourth and Walnut streets. After only three years at Penn, Majer's achievements brought her well-earned celebrity as the founder of women's athletics at Penn.

Majer married Olympic oarsman John Brendan Kelly in 1924, ten years after they first met at a neighborhood swimming pool. Kelly, the son of an Irish Catholic immigrant and ten years her senior, won an Olympic gold medal for sculling in 1920. After working in the brick making businesses of two older brothers, he started his own business, eventually becoming a millionaire. He was also involved in politics. After serving as Democratic City chairman, he ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic candidate for mayor of Philadelphia in 1935 and would also have run for senator if his wife had not discouraged the move.

Majer's family was Lutheran, and she converted to Catholicism before the marriage. They had four children: Margaret Katherine (1925–1991), John Brendan, Jr. (1927–1985), Grace Patricia (1929–1982) and Elizabeth Anne (1933–2009).

After her children were all in school, Margaret Majer Kelly became active in various civic organizations. In 1935, she began a long association with the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, serving on its auxiliary and board of corporators before chairing the development program and then receiving an honorary doctor of letters from the school. In recognition of her contributions, the Woman's Medical College named a section of the hospital for her. She also served as a member of the Philadelphia Board of Education from 1961 to 1964 and as a leader of volunteer boards and groups associated with the Philadelphia Association for Retarded Children, Moss Rehabilitation Hospital and the Committee for Philadelphia House.

Margaret Majer Kelly died on January 6, 1990 in Linwood, New Jersey.

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Margaret Katherine Kelly (Majer)'s Timeline

December 13, 1898
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
September 3, 1916
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
- 1921
Age 18
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
- 1935
Age 24
University of Pennsylvania's College for Women, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
June 13, 1925
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
May 24, 1927
Philadelphia, PA, United States
November 12, 1929
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
June 25, 1933
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
- 1960
Age 36
Women's Medical College of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States