John R. Kiley Memorial Scholarship


“He was always late!” exclaimed Katie Kiley, wife of the late John Kiley. “John often accomplished more in one day, than most people do in two.” Katie recalled one of many evenings when John was late for supper. While John was out on a run, he encountered a woman whose car had run out of gas. “John ran to the nearest gas station to get fuel for the woman.”

Whether in his running shoes or in a suit and tie, John always had the interests of others foremost in his mind. The John R. Kiley Memorial Scholarship is a continuation of John’s caring for others, as it will help generations to come achieve their educational dreams.

After graduating from St. Ambrose University with a degree in political science and economics, John held counseling positions with the University of Iowa’s Upward Bound program, the Annie Wittenmyer Complex, and the Youth Service Bureau of Rock Island. John also served as the director of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Administration (CETA) before joining the United Way of the Quad Cities. At the United Way, John was the Vice President of Community Impact for five years before becoming President.

Even off the clock, John worked hard to improve the Quad Cities community. John was an active volunteer for Junior Achievement, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Rebuilding Together (formally Hearts and Hammers), United Way’s Day of Caring and CASI’s St. Patrick’s Day Race. He was also a steadfast advocate for such youth initiatives as Success by 6 and Davenport Promise.

Singer in a Rock Band
While at United Way, John attended a conference with other QC Area nonprofit and business leaders. The conference participants were to answer the question: "What is one thing you'd like to do that you haven't done?” Participants put their anonymous answers on pieces of paper that were then collected and read aloud. A few of the answers read out loud included: "Help a needy family through a crisis," "Help fund an educational initiative," and "Help the homeless in the area.”

Finally there was an answer that read: "Be the lead singer in a rock band." That was John's answer. Since his entire professional career had been dedicated to helping those in need and improving the community through initiatives, he had already accomplished what the others had hoped to someday do.

Although he never became a lead singer in a rock band, he did get a chance to show off his pipes at his first-born daughter’s wedding. “John loved The Clash! So when he was given the opportunity to sing the last song with the band at Joanne’s wedding, he sang ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go.’ He was in his element, he looked so happy to be up there with the band!” remembers Katie.

In 2007, he became Director for Diocese of Davenport’s Social Action. “John was a natural leader.” Katie noted, “Never imposing, but whenever he was in a group, he naturally fit into the leadership role. He was very good at working with agencies and getting them to work together.”

Spelling Error
Katie recalled that John possessed charismatic leadership skills even when they attended Assumption High School together. As a junior, Katie was inducted into the National Honor Society, and although she knew of John, the President of the Honor Society, it was a spelling error that brought them together.

Katie’s maiden name was Irwin, however when John seated the inductees in alphabetical order, he seated Katie with the “E’s” as if her name was spelled “Erwin”. John realized the mistake after the ceremony and apologized profusely to Katie. The two began dating shortly after.

“His Heroes Were Educators”
The community lost one of its most idealistic citizens and sought-after leaders on February 15, 2009 when John’s life was cut short. “We wanted his name to remain in the community that he cared about so much. We didn’t want people to forget him,” explained Katie.

In February 2012, Katie met with Susan Skora, President and CEO of the Community Foundation to establish a scholarship in John’s memory for students attending a Quad City area college.

“John thought the world of the Community Foundation and Susan Skora. We knew that the Community Foundation offered scholarship funds because we had researched them when looking for scholarships for Julia, our youngest.”

The Kiley Family believes that a scholarship is the best way to carry out John’s legacy because he “understood and appreciated the value of excellent teachers and getting a good education,” explained Katie. “His heroes were educators.”

“We hope that this scholarship will not only help students financially, but will also encourage them because someone thought of them, before they were even thinking about college.” The scholarship will be awarded annually to a student based on their demonstrated leadership skills, academic excellence, and dedication to serving the community.

The John R. Kiley Memorial Scholarship has grown because of generous donations made by John’s family, friends, and colleagues. “Our family is incredibly grateful for all of the support we have received for John’s scholarship. It makes me realize that the community has not forgotten him.”

John R. Kiley

Imperturbable Optimist.
Brilliant, Creative Intellect.
Servant Leader.
Generous to a Fault.
Incurable Romantic in Love with Life.
Passionate Champion of Family and Friends, Music and Art, Peace and Justice.
Lived and Loved Fully.

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