Len Kieley Returns to his Roots

Wreathed in smiles, Len Kieley returned to his roots in Bedford last week – Image (c) JMcCT, 2018 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image

Submitted by Margaret Donovan

Len Kieley (c) sitting on the porch of his ‘new’ apartment with his son Kevin (l) and Gail Donovan Hartwell – Image (c) JMcCT, 2018 all rights reserved – Click to view large image

Leonard H. Kieley, Sr., who will turn 99 in September, grew up in the gingerbread house on the corner of Hillside Avenue and The Great Road. He bought the house next door, 138 The Great Road, from Miss Clara Cutler in the late 1940s when he returned from service in World War II. Last week, Kieley returned to 138 The Great Road, and now occupies a refurbished apartment on the first floor.

He is a second-generation Bedford boy. Len’s father, Thomas Kieley owned Middlesex Coal and Grain in the building near the depot that now houses the bike shop. The elder Kieley was such a mainstay of the town that when he died after a fall in 1930, the town closed its offices and schools for his funeral.

Since Bedford had no town high school in the 1930s, Len attended Lexington High, where he was captain of the hockey team for three of his four years. He then studied business at Syracuse University for two years before being drafted in the summer of 1940.

In October, he returned from basic training to marry his high school sweetheart, Alice McNaught, who followed him through officers’ training and around the country; she was pregnant with their first child when he shipped overseas. It would be four years before Len finally met his daughter Joan.

Lt. Kieley fought under the command of Generals Patton and Abrams in France, Germany, Belgium and Czechoslovakia as a tanker in the Fourth Armored Division. Kieley was promoted to Captain and led Task Force A at the age of 25. He received two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor; a presidential citation for over 100 consecutive days in battle; and 2 Purple Hearts.

Upon his homecoming, the young family stayed with the McNaughts on Hillside Avenue while Len finished getting his degree from Syracuse, and then they rented from Miss Cutler.

Leonard Jr., Kathleen, and Kevin followed and when the family outgrew their Great Road home, Kieley converted the building into apartments and commercial space. He ran Kieley & Scott, the town’s leading heating oil company, out of an office on the ground floor. In 1960, his first tenants, Connie and Paul Donovan, moved the new Donovan Company Realtors into one of the front offices, where Miss Cutler’s front porch used to be.

In the years that followed, Len served the town on the Planning Board, in the Rotary Club, and was a fixture wherever the Bedford Minutemen marched. He was also one of the first Bedford Santas and one of the five families that founded the Wedgewood Club.

In 2008, Mr. Kieley sold 138 The Great Road property to the daughter of his first and longest tenants, Gail  Donovan Hartwell, along with her husband Bick and their two partners.

After ten years away from Bedford, Len wrote to Gail early in 2018 to ask her to keep him in mind if an apartment opened up because he would love to come home.

In his letter, he mentioned some reasons why he thought it would be a good thing and closed by adding with the modesty and grace so characteristic of the Greatest Generation: “And if it helps, I’m a World War II veteran.”

Welcome Home, Len. Thank you for your service to our country and our town!

Editor’s Note: Mr. Kieley’s proud son Kevin provided the details for this story.


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