Frank Joseph Kelley (December 31, 1924 – March 5, 2021) was an American politician who served as the 50th Attorney General of the U.S. state of Michigan. His 37-year term of office, from 1961 to 1999, made him both the youngest (36 years old) and oldest (74 years old) Attorney General in the state’s history, and led to his nickname as the “Eternal General”. He won ten consecutive terms of office. He was the longest serving state attorney general in United States history, until Tom Miller of Iowa surpassed his longevity record in 2019—although Kelley still holds the record for longest continuous tenure as an attorney general. In 37 years of service as Michigan’s chief law enforcement officer, he worked in concert with five Michigan governors.
He was cited by all 50 states attorneys general as being the attorney general who most furthered the cause of justice in the United States and was elected president of the National Association of Attorneys General, becoming the only Michigan attorney general so honored. He was the first attorney general in the United States to establish Consumer Protection, Criminal Fraud and Environmental Protection Divisions.
After his departure from the Attorney General’s office, Kelley founded Kelley Cawthorne, a prominent lobbying and law firm in Lansing, Michigan. In private practice he represented the late Marge Schott during the sale of her majority interest in the Cincinnati Reds Major League Baseball franchise. He also represented a host of major companies such as DTE Energy, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Michigan, and Palace Sports & Entertainment/Detroit Pistons organization. He later sold the firm, but remained a consultant for it till the end of 2014.
In 1999, Governor John Engler named him to a seat on the Mackinac Island State Park Commission which controls 80% of the island. In 2007, Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm named him chair of the Commission. As chair he replaced his business partner, Dennis O. Cawthorne, a former Republican Leader of the Michigan Legislature. Granholm also appointed Kelley to the State Ethics Board.
Kelley thought he was lucky—”a political survivor … blessed with certain instinctual gifts, a way with people that enabled him to be elected class president seven times in school and attorney general 10 times afterward.”
His wife, Nancy, died due to complications from a brain aneurysm in October 2015. Kelley had three children from his first marriage. In later life he wintered in Naples, Florida, and lived the rest of the year at his home in Haslett, Michigan. He died in March 2021 in a nursing home in Florida at the age of 96. Kelley’s remains are to be cremated and his ashes interred on Mackinac Island. He is survived also by one grandson. – Available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License from Wikipedia.