Frank Kelley is highly respected, not only in Alpena, but in Michigan and the entire United States. As the longest serving Attorney General in United States history his list of accomplishments are long and storied and on Friday he was recognized in Alpena for the work he has done representing the people, but more importantly for the person he is outside of the courtroom.
Surrounded by current and retired judges, dozens of local law professional and friends and family, Kelley and 26th Circuit Court Judge Michael Mack unvieled a plaque that honors Kelley, as well as cements his legacy in Northeast Michigan.
After short salutes from several of his comrades, Mack shared how his father and Kelley worked as criminal lawyers and tried cases in the very courtroom Friday's dedication took place. He said Kelley was more than a friend. He said he was like family and a mentor growing up.
: Judge Michael Mack and former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley pose together for photographs after a plaque dedicated to Kelley was unveiled in the courthouse. During the dedication current and retired judges came to salute and honor Kelley.
"When I was growing up I would call him Mr. Kelley in public and he would pull me aside and tell me to call him Frank," Mack said. "Your friends call you Frank and you have been very loyal to your friends and you have been very loyal to this community. For a person that has served and advised presidents from Kennedy to Clinton, I feel especially privileged to know you."
When Kelley spoke he shared several stories about how he was accepted in Alpena after moving from Detroit. He said as a young Democrat in a town that was made up of mostly Republicans he realized quickly that if you treated people with dignity and respect, they looked past the political label and accepted you as a part of the community. Kelley said Alpena has always been special to him and that he was humbled to be recognized with the plaque bearing his name and likeness hanging outside the Circuit Court.
"I'm very pleased to be in my adoptive home of Alpena and to hear all of the kind words," Kelley said. "The days I had in Alpena were very happy and we had a lot of fun. Being in this room brings back many memories. My law carreer in Alpena was like a Victorian success story you read in the 19th Century. Everything you hoped would happen, did happen and I met many wonderful people. It is a nice place to live and everyone is nice. I learned living in Alpena that if you're nice to somebody, just plain nice, regardless of religion or politics, 99 times out of 100 they will be nice back to you."
Kelley wound up his speech by quoting a famous saying from an old Star Trek character and thanked everyone who showed up to salute him.
"Mr. Spock would always tell everyone to 'live long and prosper' and I think that sums up my life. He must have touched me, because I've been able to live long and prosper and I'm very grateful," Kelley said. "I have had a great life and much of it I owe to the hospitality and support of the people in Alpena. Please note that this is one of the happiest days of my life and it is a happy day for my family and we will always remember our days in Alpena. It was one of the best times of my life."
After Kelley spoke the courtroom convened into the hallway where Kelley's plaque was covered with a green drape. Mack assisted Kelley in removing it and then he took the time to pose for photos.
After the event Mack said although Kelley doesn't reside in Alpena any longer, it is still special to him and he is still special to the town.
"He is a dear, dear friend to Alpena and he talks about Alpena constantly," Mack said. "Alpena has always been very important to him and it is still very important to him today. It was important for us to honor him, as we have done today."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.