Ratus Lee Kelly Jr. died Jan. 19. He was 86.

Born in Trenton, N.J., on Feb. 23, 1933, he was the son of Bertha Staudinger Kelly and Ratus Lee Kelly Sr. He grew up in Westfield, N.J., graduated from Westfield High School and enrolled at Harvard University where he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Chinese history and then on to Harvard Law School. After law school, he worked for the Defense Department where he helped draft an international treaty concerning the status of U.S. troops in the Philippines.

Ratus later worked in the legal department of NASA in Cape Canaveral, Fla., practicing contract law. In 1964, he married Anne and they settled in the Washington, D.C. area, where they lived for 22 years. There, Ratus worked at the DC branch of Harbridge House, a management consulting firm. Later he and others formed a management consulting firm, Tefft, Kelly, and Motley Inc. as well as a law firm, Tefft and Kelly. He also traveled extensively across the country teaching contract law to government personnel.

Known for his reserved demeanor, Ratus was keenly intelligent and an engaging and attentive conversationalist. He was an avid reader who had an abiding passion for American history. His depth of knowledge regarding significant events and public figures in U.S. history impressed all who knew him. He was a longtime admirer of Theodore Roosevelt and was a major contributor to the Theodore Roosevelt Collection at the Houghton Library of Harvard University.

After retirement, he and Anne moved to Santa Barbara, Calif., where his lifelong interest in architecture led him to a position on the architectural review committee of Montecito. He also served on the Salvation Army advisory committee. Later, Ratus and Anne moved to Palm Beach, Fla. The couple spent summers in Edgartown for most of their married life. Ratus enjoyed fishing and playing tennis with friends.

A longtime Episcopalian, he was most recently a member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in West Palm Beach, Fla.

He is survived by his devoted wife of 55 years, Anne Grace Kelly, his daughter from a previous marriage to Shirley Carradine, Alison Kelly, daughters Ruth Kelly, Nan McDonald, Vanessa Kelly, and stepson Tony Hartman; seven grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held on Jan. 25 in West Palm Beach. A memorial is also planned at the Federated Church in Edgartown this summer.