The eternal spirit of the Reverend Raymond S. Kelley, 88, Retired Pastor of the Virginia United Methodist Conference, left the earthly body on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at his home in Ironto. He was a son of the late Raymond Ashler and Bertha Stewart Kelley. Rev. Kelley had no college degree as he was born into an era where education was a luxury his family could ill afford. Yet from the time of early childhood, he had a passion for devouring anything he could find to read. He was comforted in his present home with shelves of books surrounding him. He left home to go to work at age 13 and at 18 was drafted into the Army. He was trained as a medic stateside but upon arriving on a European beach he was handed a rifle and “volunteered” to be an MP. He was wounded in Germany and carried both physical and mental scars until his death. He returned to high school after his discharge and graduated with his wife Joyce, in 1949. He maintained life membership in the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and American Legion. He and his good friend, Joe Falls, formed the Pembroke American Legion group.
Rev. Kelley received “the call” to the ministry in 1963 and received his license to preach from the Locust Grove United Methodist Church. He pursued the ministerial studies as set forth by the Methodist Church and while working full time in Production Management at the Brunswick Corporation in Marion, and also pastoring the four-point Rich Valley Circuit in Smyth County, he successfully completed the five-year Methodist Course of Study. He supplemented this by attending annual conference CEU courses and also by attending religion courses at New River Community College. During his ministry, he held part-time and full-time appointments in both the Virginia Conference and the Holston Conference, including the Botetourt Charge, Alleghany-Piedmont Charge, Rich Valley Circuit in Smyth County, Christiansburg Circuit, Pembroke Charge, New River Circuit, Mt. Tabor and Mt. Elbert Churches. He was honored as the Virginia Conference “Rural Pastor of the Year, 1978”. After no longer able to pastor a church, he filled in as called upon by fellow ministers and taught a Sunday School Class at White Memorial Church until a couple of years ago when failing health made it impossible to do so.
In addition to his parents he was predeceased by infant brothers, George Ashler and Richard Lee Kelley, brother William Oliver (Bill) Kelley, and a nephew, Darrell Akers. Also brothers-in-law Harold Moses, Minor John (Bob) Moses, Kenneth Moses, and sister-in-law, JoAnne Moses Bradford.
He is survived by his wife and helpmate of 65 years, Joyce Moses Kelley; daughter, Shirley Kelley McDonald and husband Paul of Lawrenceville, GA; son, Captain Michael R. Kelley (Retired U S Coast Guard) and wife Joanne, of Palm Harbor, FL; grandchildren, Brittany Kelley Rahman and husband Chris of Los Angeles CA and Lagos, Nigeria, Chase P. Kelley, a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston, and Rowan Kelley, a sophomore at East Lake High School, in Palm Harbor, FL. Also surviving are a sister, Betty Kelley Akers and husband, Sonny, of Elliston, a brother Ronald Kelley, of Bristol, VA, sisters-in-law Effie Kelley of Salem and Minnie Moses of Shawsvillle, Brother-in-law Harold Bradford of Ironto; several nieces and nephews (including “special nieces”, Wanda Kelley, Debbie Harless, and Cindy Moses” and a host of Christian friends throughout Southwest Virginia. And not to forget his little Pomeranian, Mazee.
The family wishes to sincerely thank Susan, Katie, Tony and the others from Good Samaritan Hospice for their professional care and support during his last days with us, also special thanks to Dr. Karen Barnhart and her staff for their care for over 25 years, and for his pastor friends Herb, Emory, Sebert, and Eddie for their Christian fellowship and support.
A memorial service has been planned for Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm at White Memorial United Methodist Church in Shawsville; the family will receive friends at 5:00 pm before the service. As he wished, the body has been cremated and the cremains will be interred at a private ceremony. Rev. Kelley loved God and his people with a special emphasis on little children and those who may be hungry and he supported several charities serving them. Memorials may be sent to the home at P O Box 249, Elliston, VA 24087, to be distributed among these favorite charities. The Kendall Funeral Home in Pembroke is in charge of the arrangements. Online condolences may be sent by visiting kendallfuneralhome.com.