Jehovina Kelsall

June 14, 1937 - Dec. 23, 2018
Jehovina Kelsall, June 14, 1937 - Dec. 23, 2018

Jehovina Kelsall, a collector of and dealer in antiques who at one point owned a store in East Hampton with her late husband, Trevor Kelsall, died at home in East Hampton on Dec. 23 of a presumed heart attack. She was 81.

Mrs. Kelsall, who was known as Joh, studied at the Art Students League in New York City and worked as a greeting card illustrator before following her father and uncle into the textile business. She specialized in color styling for a firm that produced upscale silks. 

When she began collecting buttons in her mid 30s, her background in the fashion industry deepened her appreciation and the stories behind them. Describing her bug for the tiny treasures, she told The East Hampton Star in 2006, “You study fashion, manufacturing, textiles, materials.” A member of the National Button Society, she sought buttons at yard sales, auctions, thrift stores, and antiques shops, amassing thousands and thousands in a dizzying array of materials, colors, and themes, the oldest dating to the 1500s.

“It’s the hunt that keeps you going,” she said in 2006.

Her husband was a collector as well, and together they enjoyed searching for antique ornaments as well as decorations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and the Fourth of July. At each holiday, they transformed their house into a display worthy of a museum: a table set with 1950s-era paper wear and party favors at Halloween, for example, and a toy town at Christmas along with six Virgin Marys, 20 wise men, and hundreds of antique ornaments adorning the tree. Mr. Kelsall was an English teacher at the Montauk School, but in the 1970s the couple briefly turned their hobby into a business at an antiques shop on the Circle in East Hampton Village. 

Mrs. Kelsall had been a member of the Ladies Village Improvement Society of East Hampton.

She was born in Manhattan on June 14, 1937, to Orencio Miras and the former Haydee Nunez. She grew up in Manhattan. A mutual friend introduced her to her future husband, an East Hampton native. On their first date, they went to an art exhibition at Guild Hall, their son, Dafydd Corbett-Kelsall, wrote. The couple were married on Aug. 26, 1961. 

Mr. Kelsall died in 2002. Their son lives in Boca Raton, Fla. Mrs. Kelsall also is survived by a brother, Saulo Miras of Tennessee. 

A graveside service was held on Jan. 2 at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton.

Contributions have been suggested to the National Audubon Society, 225 Varick Street, New York 10014.