William Jeffrey (Jeff) Kelley passed away peacefully at his home on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, surrounded by his loving family. Jeff made the decision to return home for his final days after a sudden diagnosis of leukemia (AML).
Jeff was the son of the late William Matthews and Elnora Kelley and was born in Griffin, Ga., on May 26, 1946. He was preceded in death by both parents and his son Matthew. He is survived by his wife, Cissy; his son, Patrick; daughter-in-laws, Corey and Julie; stepson, Josh; stepdaughter, Amanda; and his Aunt Betty. He will be lovingly remembered by his grandchildren, Ambrose, Maddie, Everett, Lucy and Emerson.
Jeff graduated from Griffin High School and attended Georgia State University. Shortly after joining the U.S. Navy, Jeff was deployed to serve overseas in the Vietnam War. He was later commissioned as an officer and, among many other positions and duty stations, he served his country as a radioman, communications officer, ship’s navigator and operations officer. Jeff came to St. Marys in 1979 with the USS Simon Lake and served his last years in the military at Kings Bay naval base.
After retiring from the U.S. Navy, Jeff began his second career in the information technology field in private industry. Ten years later, he accepted the position of information technology director for the Camden County school system and retired from there in 2011. Jeff expected no more and no less from his staff and coworkers than their personal best. These expectations and his reputation for excellence were well-known in the community.
Jeff had a passion for everything outdoors. This passion lead to his dedication, devotion and service to the Boy Scouts of America, which spanned several decades and was renowned throughout Camden County. Gardening, watching and identifying birds and nurturing anything living were some of his many interests and joys. Reading, however, was his greatest joy, and he was well-versed in many disciplines of the written word, poetry being his favorite.
Jeff was actively involved in numerous other community organizations including Rotary and Kiwanis. As a volunteer with St. Marys Fire Department, he spent many hours cooking meals, making ice cream and baking delicious cakes for firefighters then sitting around their large kitchen table enjoying camaraderie with his friends, the firefighters. He was a mentor, a teacher and a leader.
He was a great friend, grandfather, father, nephew and loving husband. Jeff loved and cared deeply for his wife, sons, daughters, daughter-in-laws and his five grandchildren and he enjoyed every opportunity and moment he spent with them. Jeff was loyal, faithful, stalwart, hard-working and dependable.
Jeff admired the lines from Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” in which Mark Anthony said of Brutus, “His life was gentle, and the elements mixed so well in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a man.’”
A memorial service was held Saturday, March 2, at the St. Marys United Methodist Church and a celebration of life ceremony is being planned for a later date. Donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Wounded Warrior Project are being taken in lieu of flowers.
Allison Memorial Chapel and Funeral Home of St. Marys was in charge of arrangements.