He was born Sept. 9, 1936, in Anderson County, Tenn., to the late Claude J. and Beatrice L. Kelly. He was a graduate of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee High School and worked at his father’s business, Rabun Quarries, Inc. before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. He served on the USS Bon Homme Richard and the USS Norton Sound. In 1957, he married his first wife, Linda
He is survived by her and their four children: Catherine Parker and husband Edward Britton of Decatur; Claude R. Kelly and wife Linda of Clayton; Mark Kelly-Bateman and wife Myléne of Duluth and Carlsbad, N.M., and Dan Kelly and Crystal Wood of Dillard. He is also survived by his grandson raised in the home, Clay Kelly and wife Whitney of Tiger.
Bill was preceded in death by his second wife, Carolyn Jeanette “Jean” Kelly, and is survived by her family. He also was preceded in death by two brothers, Bobby Ray Kelly and Roy Lockard Kelly. Other survivors include: his sisters, Betty Kelly Wyatt and husband Leigh of Rabun Gap and The Villages, Fla., and Claudia Kelly Cantrell and husband Jim of Cataula; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; an aunt; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews and cousins.
Bill worked for Vulcan Industries for many years, and he and Jean lived in Saudi Arabia for four years and traveled extensively in Europe. They also lived in the British Virgin Islands for five years and in Columbus and Calhoun before retiring to Dillard. He then began his second career as a fishing guide since Bill was known far and wide as an excellent and thoroughly obsessed fisherman. He grew up fishing the Chattooga, guided at Blackhawk and Brigadoon among other places, and made many trips out west and to Alaska to fish the rivers there. He was one of the founding members of the Rabun Chapter of Trout Unlimited in 1986. In 2012, through a limited partnership, he and his sisters ensured that a 24-acre tract of land around Darnell Creek and its falls, eventually would become part of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. This will be open to the public for recreational fishing and preserve this beautiful place for future generations. Bill was also a past president of the Rabun County Jaycees, a 50-year member of Rabun Gap Masonic Lodge 265 and a member of the Head of Tennessee Baptist Church.
Visitation was held Friday at Beck Funeral Home. A memorial service was held Saturday at Head of Tennessee Baptist Church with the Revs. Larry Cannon and Don Barber officiating.
Memorial donations may be made to:
• The Roy Kelly Fund, Head of Tennessee Baptist Church, 871 Franklin St., Dillard, GA 30537. (The fund provides financial assistance to those dealing with catastrophic medical issues.)
• St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105.
• Trout Unlimited, Rabun Chapter, P.O. Box 371, Clayton, GA 30525.
• RGNS Alumni Association, c/o Advancement Office, 339 Nacoochee Drive, Rabun Gap, GA 30568.
The Clayton Tribune, June 28, 2012