"The evil that men do live after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." Shakespeare
If the above is true – as sadly, it usually is – this book wouldn’t have been written, couldn’t have been written. DeForest Kelley was never a bad guy, except in movies and in hundreds of television series episodes. At his memorial service on June 22, 1999, on the verge of tears, I stated, "In my opinion, DeForest Kelley was the kind of man God had in mind when He created Adam. If this sad old world could boast a much larger population of DeForest Kelley types, it would indeed be the paradise we all wish it was."
DeForest Kelley – the person, not the actor – became (without trying) such a monumental part of my personal architecture that I’d crumble without his spirit and legacy to support me. I’m not built, or even retrofitted, to withstand a 10.0 magnitude fracture to my superstructure. "De" was a mentor, a guardian, and a devoted friend. I respected him, treasured him, and honored him. His goodness continues.
After reading this book, you will understand all this. He was a decent, gentle, kind human being. He was all of these things, nearly all of the time, which comes close to qualifying him for sainthood in my judgment. You will also understand, I think, why De laughed so heartily all those times I tried to cajole him into writing his own story "before it’s too late." I joked once, "You know, De, if YOU don’t write it, and I end up writing, it may inadvertently launch a new world religion!"
All this might lead you to wonder if he was perhaps too kind for his own good -- so kind as to be ineffective when toughness or tenacity mattered. Not so. He was effective and he was tough in the ways that matter in life. I learned a lot watching and listening to him. I sincerely hope some of it rubbed off--
The last 90 days of De’s life, I became his personal assistant and caregiver, in the hospital and out and about. Carolyn, his beloved wife, best friend and ally for nearly 60 years, was herself confined to a hospital and to a bed, walker or wheelchair so through De’s last days I was their companion, caregiver and advocate. With no children of their own the Kelleys were accustomed to and happiest when taking care of each other. Nonetheless, the time came when De needed extra help to tie up loose ends. He needed efficient, reliable transportation between the hospital and his home, doctor, bank and attorney. He wanted a trusted ally to take in and then recall all that was said at the different meetings with these professionals. Once in a while he just needed to see his own home, look out at his garden, take a shower in his own shower stall, and have a nap in his own bed. These few, cherished outings to his home, lasting just a few hours each, never failed to refresh his spirit and they definitely promoted a peaceful, optimistic outlook within him. He’d forget, for several hours at a stretch, just how desperately ill he was.
Oddly enough, I probably spent more "up close and personal" time with De the first month after I was called in to assist him in the hospital than I had in the entire 32 year span I’d known him up until that point. It wasn’t necessary to spend a lot of time with De Kelley in order to discover how special he was. The innate GOODNESS he revealed – even during crisis, tragedy or adversity – shined through, in the many hues of a rainbow: brilliantly and vibrantly. He was truly "good people."
When I got the call about De on March 14th, 1999, it devastated me. There had been no forewarning. My mind and body weren’t prepared. I nearly lost consciousness from the shock and sadness I felt, which came in waves for hours afterward. The Kelleys, two years previously, confided to me the fact that De had undergone some surgery, but in order to protect me from worthless worry and anxiety, they had told a little white lie and said the tumor the doctors found was benign, and that all was well. They were upbeat; De began to feel better; he appeared at several conventions; we chatted on the phone hundreds of times, and I went merrily on, blissfully unaware, believing that fate had dealt the Kelleys a lucky hand...