Officer Marc Uland Kelley
Photo credit: Trinity University Police Department
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Officer Marc Uland Kelley was a "gentle giant" who died while doing the thing he loved -- serving the public.
The Trinity University police officer grew ill while responding to a fire alarm call at a residence hall on campus and died two days later, on March 14. The cause of death was a heart attack, said family members. He was 41.
Kelley stood at 6-foot-1, but it was his sense of giving that was truly big, they said. Known for his broad smile and cheery wave, Kelley was just days away from celebrating his third anniversary with the Trinity police department.
"When I interviewed Mark for the police position, I thought, 'This is a big guy,' but when I listened to him, he shared his passion that he always wanted to be a police officer," said Chief Paul J. Chapa. "I realized he was just a gentle giant at heart."
A graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, Kelley worked as a security guard for 13 years at the Menger and St. Anthony hotels, in addition to other jobs, before attending the police academy. Trinity was his first police post after graduating.
"All his life, the jobs he held was always about serving the public," said his brother, Brant Kelley. "He was always about looking out for others, making sure everything is all right. He was a protective person, a loving and loyal person."
After Brant's daughter was born in November 2012, Kelley became an attentive uncle.
"He doted on her so much you would have had a hard time determining who was her father, him or me," Brant said. "She would just go from my arms to his arms, back and forth."
Kelley had just received his certification to become a mental health police officer, Chapa said.
Kelley also held an associate's degree in aircraft repair and was an avid Spurs fan, Brant said.
His brother's sudden passing "has made it so painful for us," Brant said. Mother Hughella Kelley said her son "was the type who would never complain if something was bothering him."
Kelley apparently had an underlying heart condition that was unknown to them, they said.
But, for now, everyone is focusing on his life. Chapa, who will perform the eulogy at services Friday, said one of Kelley's fellow officers described him as "a police officer in its purest form."
"Another one said Marc loved classic rock and could always identify the year, the song and the artist," Chapa said. "He said, 'I lost a lot of money to him.'"
Copyright 2014 - San Antonio Express-News
McClatchy-Tribune News Service