Nordelle Robinson Kelly — Madame Kelly to her pupils — who taught French for two decades in the schools here, died of complications of colon cancer on Aug. 16 at home in East Hampton.
Mrs. Kelly, who moved to East Hampton with her husband, Raymond F. Kelly, in 1974, held several culinary positions before settling on education. She had a bread-baking business, having convinced the owners of the mill in Water Mill to operate the grinding stone there, turning her sacks of wheat into flour. Her bread was the only bread ground by that mill in many years. She also worked as a private cook and pastry chef at the Royal Fish and the Laundry restaurants.
She was born on March 9, 1937, to Vincenza Lillian Mastropaolo and Frank Robinson and grew up on Staten Island. She enrolled at Wagner College there and became a French major. “She was a true Francophile,” said her son, Christopher Kelly of Brooklyn. She taught herself professional cooking techniques and concentrated on all things French — the language, food, music, art, and literature.
For a time she was an assistant in cultural services at the French Embassy in New York City. Upon earning her teaching degree, she embarked on a special program in the French city of Besancon, and later Limoges, where she taught English.
She was later a French instructor at Queensborough Community College, and in the early 1980s Mrs. Kelly began teaching at the Springs School while pursuing a master’s degree at the State University at Stony Brook. She traveled to France again to study at university programs in Angers and Poitiers.
In 1986, she started teaching French at East Hampton High School and the middle school, continuing until 1997, when she took early retirement because of complications from Lyme disease.
After retiring, Mrs. Kelly enjoyed a peaceful life at home in East Hampton, spending time with friends and family, gardening, and privately tutoring a handful of students.
Her cancer diagnosis preceded her death by only a few months. In addition to her son, she is survived a daughter, Nina Kelly of Stuyvesant, N.Y., and two granddaughters. A brother, Charles Robinson of Picayune, Miss., and a sister, Ann Despont of Mendham, N.J., also survive.
Memorial contributions can be made in Mrs. Kelly’s name to the Retreat, 13 Goodfriend Drive, East Hampton 11937, or to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, P.O. Box 901, Wainscott 11975.