Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Sheila Kelly’s collection of detailed ceramic replicas of old English style houses and historical landmarks of England, are on display at the Gardner Branch of the Johnson County Library. The finely detailed miniatures collection will remain on display at the library through the end of December.

Robert and Sheila Kelly, Gardner, at the Gardner Public Library on Dec.8, standing next to Mrs. Kelly’s collection of ceramic old English houses and buildings. The collection will be on display at the library through the end of December. Staff photo by Rick Poppitz

The collection came together over 53 years. In the early 1960’s, Robert Kelly was in the U.S. Air Force and stationed in England for a couple years. While in England he met Sheila, who was born and raised there.
They wanted to get married, but Sheila was not yet 21, and her parents would not allow her to marry until she was.
Robert Kelly’s tour in England with the USAF ended, and he returned home to the USA without Sheila.
They had to wait, but when she was 21, he made his way back to England.
“He came back the week before Christmas, and we got married the day after Christmas. It’ll be 53 years this year,” says Sheila Kelly.
Robert was raised in Colorado and after marriage, they came back to the USA. His job at IBM took them back to England for 15 months at one point and eventually placed him in Olathe. In 2001 they moved to Gardner and stayed. They have raised five kids and have eight grandchildren.
Over the past 53 years, every time the couple would return to England to visit Sheila’s relatives, she would get a new souvenir for her ceramic collection.
The total collection now has 27 pieces in it, representing 27 trips to England. Seventeen pieces of the collection are on display at the Gardner library, in a curio cabinet right by the check out station.