Some of 14-year-old Brendan Kelly’s best memories involve his grandfather, John Pallay.
“When I was little, I spent quite a bit of time over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house,” Brendan wrote in a eulogy for his grandfather. “I especially loved to help Grandpa build things. ... Actually, one of my first words was ‘hammer.’ My mom tells me that before I could talk, my grandpa and I used to grunt to each other to communicate.”
Pallay, of Cedar Lake, was beloved by many, including his wife, Mary Anne Bretz-Pallay, daughter Deborah Kelly, and brothers Fred and George Reeder.
A Chicago native, Pallay graduated from Homewood Flossmoor High School and served in the Army during the Vietnam War. He was a retired welder who had owned his own company, Stress Welding in Dyer.
Pallay loved to bake and to listen to music.
“I have awesome memories of learning how to bake with my grandpa,” said Brendan. “He was a great chef and always made cooking and baking so fun. We would end up with more flour on our clothes than in the recipe, but that is what makes the memories so cool."
Brendan added, “My grandpa, even when he was sick with his cancer, was always there for me, always had a positive outlook and fought his cancer using the soldier skills he learned while in the army in Vietnam.
“When he had his first bout of cancer 10 years ago, he took the time, even while not feeling great, to build me a playhouse in my backyard. He and I spent a lot of time in the pole barn, where he taught me how to weld, cut wood and spray paint,” he said.
“My grandpa will be missed dearly,” Brendan said. “I hope to someday be half the man he was. People like my grandpa are one in a million.”