John R. Kelly

John R. (Jack) Kelly is professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was professor in Leisure Studies and the Institute for Human Development and director of the Gerontology and Aging Studies program.

His PhD in sociology is from the University of Oregon, and he received master’s degrees from Yale, Southern California, and Oregon.

He is the author of 12 books including four editions of Leisure, Leisure Business Strategiesand Recreation Business, the first text in that field. Freedom to Be: A New Sociology of Leisure is a graduate-level analysis. He is editor of Activity and Aging and coauthor of Recreation Trends and Markets in the 21st Century and 21st Century Leisure: Current Issues.

His books have been translated and published in China and Japan. He has authored over 100 research articles, chapters, encyclopedia articles, and technical reports. He has had consulting contracts with American and Japanese corporations including General Motors, Battelle International, and Yamaha as well as the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Park Service, and State of Illinois.

Among honors he has received are the Roosevelt Research Award, the National Literary Award, and Distinguished Colleague Award from the National Recreation and Park Association. At the University of Illinois, he received two awards for research excellence and was Nash Scholar of the American Association of Leisure and Recreation. He was founding chair of the Research Commission of World Leisure and has lectured and taught worldwide. 

Among his own recreation engagements have been 54 years as a pilot; 40 years of tennis; choral singing; a little cowboying in Montana; basic training of horses; and reading in fields such as economics, politics, and history. He was a college baseball pitcher and played three sports in high school.

He is the proud father of two daughters, Professor Susan Kelly of the University of Exeter and Professor Janice Kelly of Purdue University, and has two fine grandsons. He and his wife, Ruth Kelly, live in retirement on Jekyll Island, Georgia, and Beaver Island, Michigan.