Frank Kelley, Michigan Attorney General For 37 Years, Dies
Frank J. Kelley, affectionately called the “eternal general” for his 37 years as Michigan’s longest-serving attorney general, has died at age 96, his family said Saturday.
Kelley, a Democrat, served from 1961 to 1999, winning statewide election 10 times. He moved to Naples, Florida, in 2020 and died Friday night, spokesman Chris De Witt said.
Kelley was state government’s top lawyer at a time of sweeping change in politics and culture. He was credited with creating consumer and environmental protection divisions in the attorney general’s office and was a defender of civil rights.
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who became attorney general after Kelley’s retirement, said he had an “Irishman’s gift of humor and a fierce heart for the average working person.”
“When I was governor, Frank would pop into my office every few weeks with humorous advice on how to fight and who to fight,” Granholm said. “He wasn’t one to back down whether it was wrangling with the utility companies or corrupt officials.”
Kelley, a Detroit native, was an attorney in Alpena, a small town in northern Michigan, when Gov. John Swainson appointed him attorney general in 1961. Voters elected him and reelected him for decades; his only loss was during a run for the U.S. Senate in 1972.