Books with Rose Mary

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with a long-time Tucson book club called “Books with Rose Mary.” Rose Mary Blaha had only a few days ago read “Growing Up In Mama’s Club” and wanted her group of passionate readers to know about my story. She gave my book a five-star review on, saying she could not put the book down.

Our meeting started promptly at 4:00 pm at Applebees near the Tucson Mall. Rose Mary introduced me to the group, telling me that I should tell a bit of my story. It took only a few minutes, before it was non-stop questions and interesting observations. Liz Leggett wanted to know how my negative experience with religion as a child had impacted my view of religion today and asked how she could get a copy of the book. Mary Letts was curious about why the Club believes only 144,000 will go to heaven. Jan Graunke grew up in Grand Island, Nebraska, which ironically was the city my sister, Mary Lyn, was living in when she was murdered. Sophie Katz and Betty Griffis shared their thoughts about organized religion and both purchased copies of my book. Prudy Cain mentioned that alot of people claim to be agnostics but on their death bed, most of them are praying to a Higher Power. She also commented that she was looking forward to reading my book.

All in all, it was fun to be the center of attention for an afternoon and I look forward to getting feedback on my book from the ladies in “Books with Rose Mary.”


One of the most asked questions by readers of “Mama’s Club” is about my wife, Helen. Yes, that seventeen-year-old young lady that you see on this post who would become my wife on April 11, 1964. And that question is: Did she leave the Club shortly after you were married? The answer is “no.” It wouldn’t be until 1986 before she could break the stranglehold of the Club’s cult-like beliefs and practices. But our challenges for the next twenty-two years will be the fodder for my sequel, “Ghosts From Mama’s Club.” In the meantime, Helen and I will be celebrating our forty-fourth wedding anniversary next month. Ironically, my sister, Mary Lyn, was murdered on April 11, ten years ago.

Excerpts from “Mama’s Club”

Thanks to my good friend, John Hoyle, at, visitors to my website can read online two chapters in my newly revised and expanded Third Edition of Growing Up In Mama’s Club.

The first is chapter one, where Mama receives the first knock at her door in November 1947, and I vividly describe both Mama’s and my four-year-old reaction to the message and messenger.

Visitors can also read chapter twenty-one in its entirety. Entitled “Grandpa’s Kisses,” I share in sensory detail a significant turning point in my life and how important my grandparents were in helping me, at twelve years of age, to come to grips with events over which I had no control.

A Third Printing of Mama’s Club

Shortly before leaving Grand Rapids to head for our winter home in Tucson, I started thinking about the third printing of Growing Up In Mama’s Club which I would have to do before the year was out. And because I’m still big into ”continuous improvement,” I thought about ways to improve the book.

It’s then that I received the following Michele DeVoe Lussky review: “Kelly’s book is an amazing glimpse into the Jehovah’s Witness sub-culture as well as a touching coming-of-age tale. It was at times disturbing, saddening, and hilarious — it was always enlightening — and in the end it proved to be uplifting.”

Knowing that Michele was a freelance writing consultant and author of the well-written, touching poem to my daughter, Kim, on her 40th birthday, I asked if she’d be willing to give me some critique to make the third printing of Mama’s Club even better. She liked the idea.

After some nice perfunctory comments about the book, she got right down to business. As a result of her advice, I have decided that I will get rid of the excessive use of italics. Instead, a Glossary of Club Words & Jargon will be added to the back of the book. There will be an Epilogue. I will share more sensory details and memorabilia for the time I lived in Nebraska and at Bethel. I’ve improved the dialogue to make it more genuine. I’ve added more Club history. The reader will learn more about Helen and our five-year-writing courtship. And I’ve added an interesting conversion story about Johnny Morrow and his family. This new, third edition will be available in January.