The people of Palmer Johnson Yachts
and family, friends and colleagues from around the world are mourning the loss of Chairman Emeritus Mike Kelsey, Sr., who died Sunday, July 21.
Mike Kelsey, Sr., was large responsible for building the company into one of the world’s leading custom yacht brands, as a yacht builder and also a provider of yacht refit/repair services, brokerage, chandlery and related support services. According to Bill Parsons, past president of Palmer Johnson and Kelsey’s longtime business partner, “There’s hardly a soul in the yachting world who does not either know or know of Mike Kelsey.”
Kelsey’s son, Mike Kelsey, Jr., who is now worldwide director of sales for the company, said “I am so lucky to have had him for a dad and teacher. He taught so many people about our business. He would help a rookie broker, a magazine editor or anyone who asked, and no doubt we will continue to hear the stories for years to come from those whose lives he touched.”
Phil Friedman, current president and CEO of Palmer Johnson, said that Mike Kelsey represented the true spirit of Palmer Johnson. “We’re all very saddened,” he said. “ The spirit of Palmer Johnson is intimate and inextricably bound with the spirit and person of Mike Kelsey,” said Friedman.
Kelsey moved to Sturgeon Bay, Wis., from Texas in 1962, when he became vice president of service and repair for Palmer Johnson. He quickly rose to president and then chairman of the company. When Palmer Johnson was sold in 2000 to Andrew McKelvey, Kelsey stayed on as Chairman Emeritus and continued to bring new business to the company.
Mike Kelsey, Sr., is survived by his wife, Margaret; five children from his first marriage; one child from his second marriage, and two stepsons. A funeral mass in planned for July 30 at St. Joseph Church in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.