Orinda, Calif. — James P. Kelly, the co-founder of Emerald Packaging Inc. and winner of the Western Plastics Association's highest honor, the Leo Shluker Award, in 1987 and 1996, died Aug. 31 after a long battle with melanoma. He was 86.
Kelly died on the 53rd anniversary of Emerald Packaging's founding, according to his family.
“His leadership and love left an indelible mark on his family, friends, relations as far as Ireland and the business he co-founded,” the family said in an obituary. The Orinda resident was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. to native Irish parents and graduated from St. John's University in 1952 following a stint in the U.S. Army. He received an M.B.A. in 1955 from New York University.
“He blazed a trail into the burgeoning plastics industry going on to start Emerald Packaging in 1963. The company pioneered packaging for the produce industry, including premade bagged salads. Today it employs 250 people at its manufacturing facility in Union City,” the family said.
Survivors include his wife Rosaleen, and children, Jim Jr., Kevin and Maura Koberlein .
Kelly supported many educational institutions, focused mainly on capital projects and financial aid to Catholic schools in the East Bay. He received honorary doctorates from St. John's University of N.Y. and Holy Names University of Oakland, where he served for many years on the board of trustees.
A funeral mass is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Santa Maria Catholic Church in Orinda with reception to follow immediately after at Claremont Country Club in Oakland. In lieu of flowers the family requests contributions be made in Jim's memory to either St. Joseph's Notre Dame High School, Kelly Scholarship Fund, 1011 Chestnut St., Alameda, CA 94501 or UCSF Foundation, P.O. Box 45330, San Francisco, CA 94145. “Dr. Adil Daud Research Fund” should be on the check's memo line.