Kelsey Tire Founder John Kelsey Dies

Sept. 20, 2023

John Lester Kelsey, founder of antique/classic tire distributor Kelsey Tire Inc. in Camdenton, Mo., recently died. He was 79 years old.

Born in Rochester, Minn., to Paul and Mary Kelsey, he graduated from Camdenton High School in 1962 and attended The University of Missouri’s College of Arts and Science in Columbia, Mo., before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1967. He served in the Vietnam War, earning a Bronze Star, as well as a number of other honors.

After honorable discharge from the Army, Kelsey started selling tires, later opening a business in what is now Kelsey Tire Inc.'s headquarters. The business continued into the early 1980s, when John decided to focus his attention on the manufacturing and distribution of Goodyear antique and classic tires.

Kelsey Tire became the exclusive authorized distributor of Goodyear brand antique and classic tires for vehicles made in the 1920s through the 1980s.

Kelsey was inducted into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame in 2009. 

He was involved in his home parish, St. Anthony's Catholic Church, was a charter member of the Camdenton Knights of Columbus and was a charter member of the Camdenton Optimist Club. 

John is survived by his wife, Janice; two daughters, Ann Doughty and Mary Kelsey; Janice's sons, Ted, Tod and Troy Myers, as well as their children; three grandchildren, James and Josh Burton and Elizabeth Endecott; one great-grandchild, Nathaniel Burton; and many beloved friends. 

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Allee-Holman-Howe Funeral Home of Camdenton, Mo.