Satellite TV Innovator Ken Kelly Dead

Ken Kelly
This November 2020 photo provided by Ron Kelly shows Kenneth C. Kelly in Sherman Oaks, Calif. (Image credit: Ron Kelly via Associated Press)

LOS ANGELES—Ken Kelly, a Black electronics engineer who was a key contributor in developing antennas for satellite TV and radio, has passed away at the age of 92, the Associated Press has reported. He had Parkinson’s disease and officially died on Feb. 27, according to his family.

Throughout his career, Kelly received more than a dozen patents for his work in radar and antenna technology. This included two-way antenna designs that enabled customers to have DirecTV and Sirius XM connections. This technology is also used in the Mojave Desert radiotelescopes that are searching for signs of life in space.

Kelly’s career also included working with NASA on deep space missions and JPL.

In addition to his professional career, Kelly was an advocate for Civil Rights. In 1962, he and his family were the first Black family to move into the suburb of Gardena, Calif., which had excluded Black people. He also, as letters show, helped convince Charles Schulz to include the character of Franklin in his “Peanuts” comic strips as a “supernumerary” and just another member of his cast of characters.

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