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Former County Attorney comes home to share his adventures

Former Jefferson County Attorney Ed Kelly and his wife Sue in Hope Town, Bahamas. The couple will share their presentation of their travels Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Sondheim Theater at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center. Admission is FREE.
Former Jefferson County Attorney Ed Kelly and his wife Sue in Hope Town, Bahamas. The couple will share their presentation of their travels Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Sondheim Theater at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center. Admission is FREE.
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The Ed and Sue Show

Sunday at 3 p.m.

Sondheim Theater

FREE to the public

Ed Kelly, the former Jefferson County Attorney who ran for Attorney General of Iowa, will be in Fairfield with his wife Sue on Sunday sharing a fun presentation of their sailing travels around the great loops of both Europe and America.

The couple has shown this presentation where they talk about their lives at sea more than 25 times in Turkey, London, Chicago, New York and up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Sign me up

Ed Kelly moved to Fairfield on June 3, 1971 and was sworn in on that day as County Attorney, 75 minutes after passing the state bar exam in Iowa City, making him the youngest County Attorney in Iowa history.

“No one in Fairfield was willing to take the job,” explained Kelly. “I found an ad on the bulletin board at the U of I College of Law advertising the position and I loved the idea of being a County Attorney. My dad had traveled across eastern Iowa and loved Fairfield. They needed a stand in while I finished law school and then I stay in that position for 11 years.”

Kool idea

Decades before retiring in 2007, Kelly was single and living in Fairfield when he bought a 11’ compressed Styrofoam sea snark that was sold by Kool cigarettes as a marketing gimmick and it had a single sail that said KOOL.

“I fell in love sailing it after work at Lake Darling,” added Kelly who continued to expand his knowledge of sailing.

“After I ran for Attorney General and lost, I was offered the position of Federal Prosecutor in Des Moines and I owned a boat on Saylorville Lake and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could stay on the boat past Sunday?’”

After more training courses and a move to Washington D.C. the couple had a boat on the Chesapeake with Sue working in women’s health as a nurse practitioner and Ed at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Let’s go

With Ed offered early retirement from the DOJ, at 61 they took off to “discover the world,” according to the pair.

“I had studied English history in college, so we sailed to England and lived in London for six months next to the Tower Bridge,” explained Ed.

They have now been living on Angel Louise for 12 years and have completed both the great loops of Europe which took 494 days and America which was 328 days, cruising through 49 countries and five continents.

“We ended up doing a lot of it by chance,” said Ed. “If we took the big mast down we could go where big cruise ships go along the rivers across Europe.”

The pair left London and crossing the North Sea to Holland, Sue said they were told to “stop for fuel every opportunity, because not everyone sold fuel to the small recreational boats. We can carry quite a bit of food and canned goods and we stop for fresh food along the way,” she added.

“We eat local foods, but in Turkey we weren’t sure what we were eating because we didn’t know the language,” said Ed.

“We were sailing around North Europe, headed west on the Mediterranean, and at a Spanish port we heard a story about traces of horse meat found in beef. I looked at the butcher and nayed like a horse and the guy shook his head no while laughing and he moo’d at me.”

Happy to be stuck with you

“You’re on the boat 24/7, but it’s 40 foot long so you have some space to spread out,” said Sue. “But you really have to be a pair and your life depends on the other person.”

Ed said that the trust binds you to the other person and Sue agreed and added, “If you get annoyed you have to get over it quickly.”

They get on each others nerves like any other couple, but they get to see and do so much together, they feel lucky to experience it with one another.

While their longest voyage was 26.5 days at sea crossing the Atlantic, Ed said they have “never gotten to the bottom of the joy from sailing.”

Word from the wise

“Being in the medical profession, I always saw people who waited to travel and then something would happen and they couldn’t go,” explained Sue.

Ed thought Saint Augustine of Hippo said it best when he shared, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Come one, come all

The couple “would be over joyed” to share their photos and music from their adventures and see everyone.

“It’ll be a joy to be back in Fairfield,” said Ed. “My kids were born and raised in Fairfield, I was on the school board and we are so excited to share our journey and what happened after our retirement during the last 12 years.”