Cover photo for Kathleen Kelly (Mehrman)'s Obituary
Kathleen Kelly (Mehrman) Profile Photo
1943 Kathleen 2021

Kathleen Kelly (Mehrman)

August 6, 1943 — April 28, 2021

Kathleen Sue Kelly (Mehrman), passed away on Wednesday April 28, 2021 at the age of 77 in St. Augustine, Florida after a long struggle with COPD.

Kathleen was born in Duluth, Minnesota on August 6, 1943. She is survived by her husband of 60 years George F. Kelly, daughter Jodie Anne Funderburk (Greg), granddaughters Sarah and Catherine Levy, brother Russell Mehrman Jr (Judith) and many beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, close friends, students and professional associates. Preceding her in death were her daughter Jennifer Lynn Kelly, parents Russell and Idun Mehrman, and sister Julie Hillman (Charles).

Kathleen retired from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications in 2019 after 16 years, including 3 years as Chair of the Public Relations Department where she was an internationally recognized authority on fund-raising as a specialization of public relations. She was the recipient of 3 of the highest awards in public relations teaching and research: the 2004 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Outstanding Educator Award, the PRSA Foundation’s Jackson and Wagner Behavioral Science Prize in 1999, and the Institute for Public Relations’ 1995 Pathfinder Award in recognition of lifetime achievement in public relations research. In addition to numerous articles and papers, Kathleen was the sole author of 2 award-winning books on fund-raising, including the first academic textbook on the subject: “Effective Fund-Raising Management.”  She was a member of the prestigious Arthur W. Page Society, an invitation-only, professional association composed of CCO’s of the world’s largest corporations, the CEO’s of the leading public relations agencies, and a few distinguished academics from public relations and business.  She also was elected to the PRSA’s College of Fellows. Kathleen served 12 years as a trustee of the Institute for Public Relations and represented PRSA on the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication for 7 years.  She was a member of the executive committees of both the 1999 and 2006 National Commissions on Public Relations Education.

Prior to coming to the University of Florida, Kathleen was professor and coordinator of the public relations program at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, La., where she held an endowed research professorship for 12 years. She received her BS, MA and PhD from the University of Maryland, where she also taught for five years and was a proud 1961 graduate of Duluth Central High School.   Kathleen will be dearly missed.

Visitation will be held on Wednesday May 5th, 2021 in Dougherty Funeral Home from 5PM to 7PM.  A private family graveside service will be held on Thursday in Calvary Cemetery Duluth. In Lieu of flowers or gifts please consider making a donation in the name of Dr. Kathleen Kelly to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Multicultural Scholarship Fund at  Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home.  600 E. 2nd St. Duluth, MN 55805.  218-727-3555.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Kathleen Kelly (Mehrman), please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

5:00 - 7:00 pm

Dougherty Funeral Home Duluth

600 E 2nd St, Duluth, MN 55805

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