Obituaries Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: use double quotes to search for a phrase
  • Tip: lists of awards, schools, organisations etc

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Henry Jason (Harry) Kelly (1880–1947)

The death occurred at the Hospital last night of Mr. Henry Tonner ('Harry') Kelly at the age of 67 years.

So passed away a colorful figure in the Labor Movement and in the industrial life of Broken Hill. Born in Melbourne 67 years ago, Mr. Kelly was very young when he came to Broken Hill, being about 14 years of age.

For nearly half a century he was actively associated with Labor affairs as an organiser and propagandist and was ever to the fore as Labor's leader of song.

In times of strife and strikes and struggles on the industrial and political fields it was Mr. Kelly to whom the movement looked to lead in rallying songs of Labor. He was a very fine singer, who years ago could hold any audience with his vocal efforts. Though a pianist, Mr. Kelly rarely played the piano in public. His position seemed to be that of song leader.

During the record strike of 1919-20 Mr. Kelly, as in the anti-conscription campaign had most to do with the organisation and staging of entertainments— dancing and concerts. He was always a member of the W.I.U. of A. For a number of years he worked on the line of lode. At the age of 14 years, on arrival here with his father and mother and brothers and sisters — his father was for some time president of the F.E.D. and F.A. — he went to work in the open cut on the Proprietary mine. In 1917 Mr. Kelly joined 'Barrier Daily Truth' as a deliverer of the paper and remained till after the big strike that ended in 1920. After that unpaid service he left to take up other work, some of the time in Adelaide, but returned to the delivery staff of 'Barrier Daily Truth' in 1926 to remain till failing health compelled him to retire last year.

The late Mr. Kelly was for many years a W.I.U. of A. delegate on the B.D.A.A.L.P., and was several times president of that body.

Mr. Kelly's very great interest in the Hospital in which he died, and his years of untiring work for it is well known. It was in 1918 that Mr. Kelly first became a member of the Hospital Board. He was a member of the Board in 1922 to 1925 then from 1928 till his death. He had held every office that a board member can hold and was four times president. He was an effective enthusiast in the campaign to secure the new Hospital and to equip it with the latest and best.

It may be said in fact of Mr. Kelly that while he was always present, frequently one of the speakers, he invariably led the singing at May Day demonstrations in Broken Hill for more than thirty years, except for the few times he was not here. His work in the Labor movement will be remembered by unionists and his devoted service will live in the memories of all.

Before last night's Board meeting concluded the members were advised of Mr. Kelly's death, and all expressed regret at his passing, and each member of the Board paid tribute to his work.

Mr. Nankivell later said that he would like to pay a personal tribute to Mr. Kelly and his work. Many times they had gone away together, and Mr Kelly was an excellent man to travel with.

Mr. Kelly had always been a great worker for the Hospital, and he had the interests of the community at heart. He was always pressing for increased efficiency in the treatment of patients, and he was the chief inaugurator of the W.C.F. scheme, which was the fore-runner of all contribution schemes in Australia.

Mr. Kelly was greatly respected by the Hospitals Commission, and was regarded as a competent administrator of Hospital affairs. Mr. Kelly was never afraid to criticise the Commission or Government when he thought their policies were detrimental to good hospitalisation. Mr. Kelly had always held the respect of the Hospital staff, and they accepted his advice on problems, he would be a hard man to replace, concluded Mr. Nankivell.

The late Mr. Kelly leaves a widow and three children— Mesdames Rosser (Adelaide) and Ryan (Sylvania, Sydney) and Mr. H. R. ('Bob') Kelly, Broken Hill.

Mrs. Rosser arrived from Adelaide on Thursday morning to see her father, and Mrs. Ryan arrived from Sydney last night for the same purpose. Both saw their father last night and were with him almost to the moment he passed away. He knew them and was talking to them half an hour before the end.

The funeral will take place tomorrow (Sunday), leaving deceased's late residence 99 Morgan Street, at 11 o'clock. Fred J. Potter and Son have charge of the arrangements.

Original publication

Citation details

'Kelly, Henry Jason (Harry) (1880–1947)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


24 October, 1947 (aged ~ 67)
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Key Events
Key Organisations
Political Activism