William E. Kelley Jr., the man behind the creation of Instant Ocean salt and the founding president of the Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, passed away earlier this month at the age of 93 and was buried yesterday in Arizona with military honors.
Kelley, a former director of The Cleveland Aquarium, founded Aquarium Systems, Inc., and launched the company’s first product Instant Ocean in 1964. In 1973 Mystic Aquarium opened with Kelley serving as president, where Instant Ocean was used in all the saltwater exhibits. He would serve as Mystics president for 12 years and served on the Board of Trustees until his passing.
“He set the course for the institution’s focus on research and innovation in exhibitry. He was very much a pioneer in the world of aquariums,” said aquarium President Stephen M. Coan on Sunday night. “Bill saw much sooner than others the importance of creating a public place where people could come and be exposed to the ocean, its animals, its grandeur and its problems. By doing so, I think he believed that we could engage people in an awareness of the importance of conserving the largest part of our earth.”
Coan said that because of Kelley’s innovative work, there are many aquariums across the United States.
In World War II, Kelley served as a French and Italian interpreter with the Army’s 57th Signal Battalion in North Africa, Italy, France, Germany and Austria. In combat he served in campaigns in Naples, Foggia, Rome, Arno, southern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. He earned five Bronze Stars and one Bronze Arrowhead.
As a child, he built crystal radio sets and at 10 years old, began to build his own telescopes from salvaged parts and continued to build them until three years ago.
Kelley was also a marine biologist who served as the first director of the Cleveland Aquarium from 1954 to 1964 and the associate director of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He was also the founding president of the Niagara Falls Aquarium in 1965.