Jason Quinn Kelly: A life not lost in vain


Leviak Kelly, father to Jason Quinn Kelly, comforted his son Andrew Kelly during a brief stream of pictures and videos in Quinn’s memory, near the conclusion of Quinn’s memorial service at CSU Bakersfield on April 24. Sergio Hernandez/The Runner

By Vincent Perez, Features Editor

[Ed note – The following errors have been fixed: Quinn’s paper was on ecology and geopolitics, and the CSUB English literary magazine is correctly spelled as Calliope]

Quinn Kelly made few enemies in life, and if he did, he eventually befriended them because he saw the good in everyone.

He refused to see people as bad, but merely they were going through something internally.

That ideal was something Jason Quinn Kelly, 18, a double major in English and biology sophomore at CSU Bakersfield, believed until the day he died.

Kelly was struck by a truck on April 2 in the 3200 block of Haley Street and did not survive his injuries.

CSUB and the Kelly family invited guests and friends to Quinn’s memorial service on April 24 at Alumni Park.

Andrew Kelly (center), is comforted by fellow students during a memorial service for Jason Quinn Kelly on April 24.
Sergio Hernandez/The Runner

Quinn’s brother Andrew, 22, shared his thoughts on Quinn’s writing in his English classes.

“He had a way with words to make them smooth and beautiful and something you’d want to read,” said Andrew.

Quinn’s radiance is a light that the world is now missing, according to Andrew.

“He had a wry smile that made him seem invincible,” he said.

Andrew mentioned Quinn’s outgoing attitude, yet Quinn struggled internally.

“His struggle was a battle within himself as much as it was about anyone else,” said Andrew.

Quinn was teased by a female classmate in his first year, which is typical in most young interactions. Quinn’s response was not.

Sean asked Quinn what was happening a month later.

“She was going through a lot at the time,” Quinn replied, according to Andrew.

Quinn’s unselfishness was never hidden.

“You wouldn’t understand,” Quinn said to Andrew.

Quinn wore a heart on his sleeve – literally. Andrew said that Quinn wore a sweater which had a glittery heart on the sleeve.

Sean, 24, Quinn’s oldest brother, admired Quinn’s activism.

He said that Quinn’s goals were to help – humans and animals alike.

Quinn was an environmentalist and his goal of becoming vegan may not have reached, but his dedication to activism will be remembered.

He cared deeply about social issues with women, disabled and minorities, said Sean.

“It was amazing how much of a heart he had. It was so big that he probably could have carried the entire whole world in it,” said Sean.

Monica Ayuso, English instructor, Quinn’s favorite professor, offered her condolences to the Kelly family.

“I wish I knew more about him, but I believe the handful of experiences I can speak about will give a clear sense of the delight and reward I got from being his English instructor,” Ayuso said.

In Fall 2018, a 17-year old Quinn registered for Ayuso’s Theory and Criticism class which was intended for juniors and seniors.

Quinn’s initiative was always there. He registered as a biology major in his first semester and took on English as his second major at the end of his first semester, despite being home-schooled.

“I was delighted when I saw him again this semester in my Ethnic Minority American class,” said Ayuso.

Quinn never stopped asking questions. He raised his hand in class and asked Ayuso if a passage could be ecologically-driven.

He did more research on ecology and geopolitics, and wrote an essay  which will be featured in the upcoming Calliope, the literary journal in the English department, written by undergrad students.

“He was determined to become one of us,” she added about Quinn’s love for literature.

Quinn’s father, Leviak, who immigrated from Ireland to the U.S. as a teenager, held his cane with great fortitude to dedicate his thoughts to his fallen son.

Leviak said that Quinn liked weird, because “weird people were honest.”

“They were not boxed, they were culturally free,” he said.

Leviak shared a Gaelic speech from Ireland which translated to: “I love you Quinn. Your soul is in my heart. We honor you. You shall not die, for we remember. Eternal memory to you my son, reside in my name.”

Leviak and Quinn were working on a book together before Quinn died.

He said Quinn made sure to edit Leviak’s work in a humorous way: “‘You can’t say that – too many adverbs,’”  said Quinn.

Quinn said to Leviak, “You know you’re doing this all wrong. You’ve got the mechanics down but none of the poetry. You’ve got it all arse-backwards, dad.”

He asked Quinn to rewrite his chapter they were working on. The chapter changed tenfold.

“Because of him, I could see poetry again,” said Leviak.

Leviak said he was proud of Quinn because of his individualism and determination.

Quinn was happy up to the day that he took his last breath said Leviak.