William S. “Bill” Kelly, 89, formerly of Pulaski, Virginia died peacefully Friday February 2, 2018 at the Melech Hospice House in Temple Terrace, Florida. The fourth son of the late William and Anna Stover Kelly, he was born in Long Branch, West Virginia on March 4, 1928. Bill was quite young when both of his parents died and, as a result, lived with different members of his family during childhood. He attended what is now Ferrum College when it served both as a high school and a junior college in the early 1940’s. A member of the “Greatest Generation” Bill was a veteran of WWII, having served in the South Pacific with the United States Navy until he was honorably discharged in 1946.
Following his tour of duty with the Navy, Bill relocated to Narrows, Virginia where he was employed by the Celanese Corporation and worked for a time in the construction industry. In the early 1950’s, he began his career as an agent and Staff Manager with the Home Beneficial Life Insurance Company. He was transferred to Pulaski, Virginia in 1954 where he was often referred to as “the insurance man.” Bill firmly believed in the importance of insurance for his clients and was known to quietly make arrangements for premiums to be paid rather than have them lose their coverage. Following his retirement from Home Beneficial, Bill worked part time in Pulaski with Stevens Funeral Home.
Throughout his entire adult life Bill dedicated himself to service in his church and his community. As a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Pulaski, he taught Sunday school and served for many years as a deacon and elder, as well as a dishwasher at the Daily Bread ministry. He was an active volunteer in the American Red Cross serving in many capacities with blood drives, disaster relief and contact for families of men and women in the armed forces. Bill was a member of several non-profit boards and was a charter member of the Randolph House Foundation.
Soon after coming to Pulaski he was asked to serve as scoutmaster of Troop 249 at the First Presbyterian Church which was the beginning of many years of dedication to the scouting program. Hundreds of young men were the beneficiaries of his commitment to the fundamentals and ideals of the Boy Scouts of America. Bill earned virtually every volunteer award at the troop and council levels including the Order of the Arrow, Wood Badge and Silver Beaver. He also served for many years as an instructor for both Wood Badge for adults and Fox Fire for young scout leaders. The Pulaski Jaycees named Bill as the “Outstanding Young Man of the Year” in 1957 primarily for his work in scouting. In 1999 he was presented with the Southwest Times Civic Honors Award given to “a county resident who has contributed to the county and its citizens with disregard for publicity, fame or fortune.”
Bill is survived by his wife of more than 70 years Edith H. Kelly of Seffner, Florida, his five children, Jim (Kathryn), Mike (Pat), Steve (Mauri), Rick (Kristen), Judy (Jeff) and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In accordance with his wishes, Mr. Kelly was cremated. A Celebration of Life will be held in Pulaski at a later date. The family encourages that any memorials be made in Bill’s memory to Troop 249 BSA or the First Presbyterian Church both in Pulaski, Virginia.
Arrangements by Stevens Funeral Home, Pulaski, VA.