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He struck out from home at sixteen alone, hitching, as he often did for the first half of his life. He dyed his forelocks white-blond (his little sister told us, the admiration still in her voice) and drove a muscle car, which got stolen. He loved water; he joined the Coast Guard.

He always returned to Kentucky. He was a son of Kentucky, and the Kellys who settled its Kelly Ridge.

His fishing buddy Jimmy described a bridge over the Kentucky River where Joe would go, on hot days. Eighty feet at least, he said, from the surface; and Joe dove.