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Walter Kelt, former Newsday employee, longtime Hauppauge resident, dies at 86

Walter Kelt

Walter Kelt Credit: Mark Davies

Exemplifying the absolute best of the old-school values, family, friends and faith — that was Walter Kelt.

"He would just say ‘You have to lead by God’s example, just be a good person, and try to do the right thing every day,’" said his daughter, Patricia Davies.

Walter Kelt, a former Newsday employee who worked in the composing room, lived in Hauppauge for most of his adult life and died at home Sunday of cancer. He was 86.

"Something that stood out to me was that he was very loyal, and he was very honest, and he taught us that it was very important," Davies said.

Those principles are among the qualities Kelt shared with family, along with profound loyalty, integrity, love of travel and a sense of humor.

Born on July 26, 1935, Kelt grew up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side before moving with his parents to Astoria.

He served four years in the United States Coast Guard before his discharge in 1957.

Patriotism was another of Kelt's priorities.

"He loved it," Davies said, referring to her father's military service. "He always joked that it was Uncle Sam’s yacht club."

Kelt was drawn to the beach and boats, she said, and he loved cruises, traveling with Patricia Ann, his late wife of 54 years, to the Caribbean and Alaska, for example.

Kelt met Patricia Ann, who died eight years ago, at a baseball game in Floral Park where he was pitching.

They married and moved to Hauppauge. Kelt attended typesetting college and found work with other publishers in Melville before joining Newsday.

"They were both Catholic and were both very religious people … marriage was a sacrament that was very important to them, and whatever problems came along, they just worked through them together — they were ‘old school’ like that," Davies said.

Frank Sinatra was one of Kelt’s favorite performers; Winston Churchill one of the historical figures he admired and read about.

An only child, Kelt’s keen sense of loyalty extended to a childhood friend, Bob Blackburn, of Smithtown, he met while they delivered newspapers together in Queens.

"He had dinner once a week with Uncle Bob every Saturday — and that was like a date he had to be home for; it couldn’t be missed," his daughter said.

Similarly, after he became a widower, his love for his family, such a force in his nature, was reciprocated; his sister-in-law, Rose Roberts, and her husband, Edwin, had him over for dinner several nights a week.

An 80th birthday was celebrated — with cake every night — on a family vacation in Tuscany, Italy.

"It was just a momentous trip, we are all so glad we did it; we loved to celebrate him, he was so important, and he was such a big presence in our family," Davies said.

That faith saw Kelt through some of the difficult recent years, when a series of cancers and ailments developed.

"Through it all, he just didn’t complain that much; he took it in stride," his daughter said. "He handled it with grace and was brave, and I think that was due to his faith, he wasn’t that afraid because he knew God was with him."

Besides Davies and her husband, Mark Davies, Kelt is survived by a son, Walter John Kelt, and his wife, Jen; daughter Kerin Geraghty and her husband, Ronald, and Jacqueline Huggins and her husband, James Smith.

Visitation was on Tuesday at the St. James Funeral Home. A funeral mass was offered Wednesday at St Patrick’s RC Church in Smithtown.

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