Remembering Lynn Italiano Kelly one year later

By Kevin Canessa Jr.

I can’t forget — nor would I ever want to forget — the first time I met Lynn Italiano Kelly. Her husband, Duane, The Observer’s former art director, and I had just finished a long Monday at The Observer laying out the newspaper — and we were both anxious to leave to have dinner.

I was planning to run to Burger King probably — Mondays I often ate out — but Duane said to me: “Kev, come over to my place. I want you to meet my wife, Lynn.”

So what bachelor declines an offer for a home-cooked meal?

It was March 2006 — and I followed Duane back to his place in North Arlington, hardly an easy task for anyone who knows how Duane drives.

When I got there and finally met Lynn, it was as if I had known her my entire life on that very first day.

She grabbed me and gave me a great big hug, a kiss on the cheek, and said: “You will always be welcome in our home.”

And she meant that.


Because, well, that was just how Lynn was. What was hers was yours. When you became her friend, you were her friend for life, not just for a timeframe when you might be working with her or Duane. She made it clear that no matter where life took us, it was essential — vital almost — to remember that friendship never ends.

And that is because that was just how Lynn, a graduate of North Arlington High School, was.

Over the years, I spent a lot of time with her and Duane.

We had barbeques. We had Sunday pasta dinners. We spent many a weekend down in Brick at what later became her most beautiful home (at this time, it was just her mother-in-law’s place).

We laughed. We cried. We suffered. We experienced joy.

There were so many great memories that it’s impossible to recall them all.

Time and geography pulled Lynn (and Duane) and me apart. But thanks to Facebook, we were able to keep in touch.

One day, about a year ago, it was around 6 p.m. and I was visiting New Jersey at the time, Lynn sent me a Facebook inbox message. Here, verbatim, is what she wrote: “So I guess we are going to miss you again this trip???? Please try and visit.” It was toward the end of my visit to Jersey — I was soon to be heading back to Port St. Lucie, Fla., where I lived at the time.

It was one of the last things she ever wrote on Facebook. Just five hours later, she suffered a massive heart attack and died.

I was devastated I didn’t get to have that visit. I was numbed that I didn’t even get to respond to Lynn.

When she wasn’t in too much physical pain — and it seemed like she was always suffering — Lynn did everything she could to make life better for Duane. Never was that more evident than after Duane had major surgery just a few months before she died.

And while Duane’s life may never be the same again, and while I can say the same for my own life now that she is gone, every single one of us who knew Lynn was forever changed for the better.

I learned so much about loyalty from Lynn. I learned how to love better from Lynn. I learned more about life from Lynn than I have from most others.

One year after her death, I miss her more than ever.

May you rest in eternal peace, my dear friend.

Odds & ends

• There are first days on the job — and then there’s the first day on the job new NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill had.

• I don’t know about you, but I am glad the hot weather appears to be gone for the season. After spending nearly four years in Florida, I’m ready for some snow!

Have a great week, one and all.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.