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The Wisdom of Dan Kelly’s Dad: ‘I Will Leave You a Good Name’


Dan Kelly’s dad left the former Supreme Court justice with a piece of profound wisdom.

In a podcast appearance Thursday on “Wisconsin Right Now Uncensored,” Kelly opened up about his father, Ed Kelly, and the lesson his dad taught him that he treasures to this day.


His father’s words of advice are one reason he’s so troubled by the heated nature of the state Supreme Court race, said Kelly, who is a candidate running to win back the seat he lost in 2020.

Kelly is known more for his esoteric speeches on the Constitution than warm-and-fuzzy stories about his family. However, the story of Dan Kelly’s dad brings a human dimension to the man.

Dan kelly's dad“When we grew up, we didn’t have a whole heckuva lot in our family. I had three brothers and three sisters, and my mom and dad had to work really hard to make the dollars stretch from one week to the next,” he said.

“When I was a teenager, one day my dad set me down. ‘He said, Now Dan, when I’m done with this life, I’m not going to have a lot to leave you, but I’ll make you this promise: I will leave you a good name,” Kelly explained.

“The year after I graduated law school, his comments came to pass. He didn’t have a lot to leave me. A couple cufflinks and a broken pocket watch. But he left me a good name. I’ve treasured that my whole life. It’s been my goal to hand down my good name to my children.”

Dan kelly's dad“I get angry when there’s someone like a Janet Protasiewicz out there lying about me and trying to trash my father’s legacy. That makes me furious. But it’s because my dad taught me the value of character in a person, and he told me that your name is everything. And I believe him. That was a good lesson to leave, and I’ve lived my life according to that lesson ever since.”

Dan kelly's dadKelly said his dad was born in New Jersey and went on a Navy tour after high school.

But he “always wanted to be a man of the West. He moved to Wyoming and worked as a cowboy… out riding the range and rounding up cattle.”

Dan kelly's dadHe was a “cowboy, and he loved that,” working on ranches in Wyoming, Colorado, and California.

“That was his sensibility. It was this straight-forward down-to-earth kind of guy that you just love and respect, and I sure love my dad and respected him an awful lot,” Kelly said.Dan kelly's dad

According to Kelly, it’s that simple piece of advice that he tries to live by – and up to.

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