The Amazing Race's Oldest Female Contestant Jody Kelly Dead at 85

Jody Kelly—the oldest woman to compete on The Amazing Race after appearing alongside her granddaughter on the series' 16th season in 2010—died on Sept. 5 at the age of 85.

By Gabrielle Chung Sep 25, 2023 10:09 PMTags
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The Amazing Race family has lost one of their own.

Jody Kelly—the oldest woman to ever compete on the CBS travel competition—died "suddenly but peacefully" on Sept. 5, according to her obituary in the Austin-American Statesman. She was 85.

Jody, who had resided in Austin, Texas, for more than a decade, was attending Spanish language immersion camp in Minnesota when she died, per the obit.

Born on Jan. 21, 1938, Jody was 71 when she appeared on The Amazing Race's 16th season in 2010. Partnering up with her then-22-year-old granddaughter Shannon Foster, the Alabama native made it to the second round of the race before being eliminated.

At the time, she said her participation on the show was proof that senior people "can do physical things."

And rightly so. In addition to founding StrengthMobile, a company that provides physical training to the elderly, Jody represented Team USA in multiple international races, including the 2010 European Aquatics Championships in Budapest and the 2016 ITU World Triathlon in Cozumel. She was also a member of Paddles with a Purpose—a dragon boat team comprised of breast cancer survivors—after going into remission in 2018.

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With a Ph.D. in English Literature from Duke University, Jody was an avid writer. She published several fitness books, including Feeling Good: Strength Training with Your Significant Elder, and also contributed two dozen health-related articles for Austin Fit Magazine.

She is survived by her four children—Kate Leith, Christy Izmirian, Bruce Moore and Kelly Foster—as well as 11 grandchildren, including Shannon, and eight great-grandchildren.


Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

"Jody Kelly was 85 years old and so full of life, joy, and learning," Kelly wrote on Facebook Sept. 6. "She always had a smile for everyone she interacted with and loved meeting people and having new adventures."

She added, "I miss you so much and can't believe you are gone. You are strong, loving, happy, open-minded, smart, active, and brave."

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