Kelly, Giles M. 1921-

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Kelly, Giles M. 1921-


Born July 17, 1921, in Bronxville, NY; son of an electrical engineer and an educator; married Helen Hackett (deceased); married Ann Stevens (a photographer); children: (first marriage) four. Education: Graduated from New York State Merchant Marine Academy, 1942; Williams College, B.A., 1949; Princeton University, M.P.A., 1951. Politics: Independent. Religion: Secular humanist. Hobbies and other interests: Painting, sailing, tennis, gardening, travel.


Home—Washington, DC. E-mail—[email protected]


U.S. State Department diplomat and Naval Reserve officer; served in the Central Intelligence Agency; commanded the former presidential yacht Sequoia, 1983-88. American University, Washington, DC, adjunct professor of seamanship and sailing; tour director for the Smithsonian Institution; owner and director of the Gangplank Sailing School, Washington, DC. Military service: U.S. Naval Reserves, 1942-46, served in the Pacific Ocean, 1968, and as chief of public affairs at NATO's Atlantic Command, Norfolk, VA; became captain.


Sequoia: Presidential Yacht, photography by Ann Stevens, Tidewater (Centreville, MD), 2004.

Also author of articles, including "Yacht of Presidents," Yachting Magazine, September, 1985, p. 68; "Alexandria: Still a Seaport," Fairfax Magazine, September, 1987, p. 40; "Sudan Safari," New York Times, April 19, 1964, p. 31. Contributor to additional periodicals, including Chesapeake Bay Magazine and the Washington Post.


Giles M. Kelly is a former diplomat and was captain of the presidential yacht. Born on July 17, 1921, in Bronxville, New York, Kelly is the son of an electrical engineer and an educator. He studied at the New York State Merchant Marine Academy, graduating in 1942. Immediately upon graduation Kelly voluntarily joined the U.S. Naval Reserves and was sent to war in the Pacific theater during World War II. He served for four years before continuing his studies at Williams College. In 1951 he completed a master of public affairs degree at Princeton University. Kelly was later recalled to military service in 1968 during the Vietnam War, acting as chief of public affairs at the North American Treaty Organization (NATO)'s Atlantic Command in Norfolk, Virginia. He achieved the rank of captain during his time in the military.

Kelly also served his country by working for the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. State Department as a foreign service officer in Europe and Africa. Returning to Washington, DC, Kelly worked as an adjunct professor of seamanship and sailing at the American University. He also worked at the Smithsonian Institution, and was owner and director of the Ganplank Sailing School near the nation's capital. As a writer, Kelly has contributed to a number of periodicals, including the New York Times, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, Yachting Magazine, and the Washington Post. Having retired from the workforce, Kelly enjoys painting, sailing, and tennis.

In 2004 Kelly published Sequoia: Presidential Yacht with Tidewater Publishing. Including photography by his wife, Ann Stevens, the book outlines the history of and events surrounding the history of the presidential yacht, the Sequoia. The Sequoia was built in 1925 along the Delaware Bay. Stretching 104 feet, the yacht is mostly made of wood and served as the official presidential yacht for eight sitting presidents over a period of forty-six years. The boat was auctioned during the presidency of Jimmy Carter but remains an attraction on the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. Kelly supported the information in Sequoia by using photographs, personal experience on the ship, interviews with crew members, and government records.

Kelly was asked to be the skipper of the Sequoia by the Presidential Yacht Trust, serving from 1983 to 1988. The Presidential Yacht Trust attempted to restore the Sequoia to presidential service by raising enough money for its upkeep and maintenance. The ship, under the command of Kelly, embarked on a 100-city tour, bringing the national treasure to ports for viewing and fundraising opportunities. The Trust was not successful in raising enough money and received no support from the government. In a Boat/U.S. Magazine article, Kelly said: "Sequoia is such an important piece of American history that she deserves to be saved." Kelly pushed forward, however, with the help of the Sequoia Presidential Yacht Foundation in finding the means to preserve the ship and to make it a national monument.



Boat/U.S. Magazine, May, 1999, Ryck Lydecker, "Saving Sequoia," p. 16.

Princeton Alumni Weekly, June 6, 2005, "Books Received 2004-05."

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Kelly, Giles M. 1921-

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