Raymond Leroy Kelly entered this world on October 14, 1954, in Spartanburg, SC to his loving parents, Cornell and Dorothy Booker Kelly. He departed this life on January 22, 2021, in Asheville, NC, preceded in death by wife, Kathleen Black Kelly.
Raymond’s life was a blessing to his family, especially to Tomica and LaTonya (Ronday) who call him daddy; Antwan and Jamal who call him granddad; Ethel, Donna and Cornell Jr who call him brother; Candace (James), Jade and Russell who call him Uncle Raymond; Thomas Kelly and Lewis Booker who call him favorite nephew; and many others who call him cousin, colleague, classmate (Asheville High School Class of ’72), mentor, soldier, coach, referee, friend; and the baddest drummer in Western North Carolina.
It will be hard to imagine life without Raymond’s wit, humor and affectionate smile. For 30 years, Raymond faithfully served in the music ministry of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church as the drummer. In addition, he played professionally on stages throughout North Carolina and the surrounding states. Many may not know that Raymond’s baseball legacy began before grade school, evolving into a headline “Southpaw” pitcher. It is no surprise that he continued his involvement in sports, officiating for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, neighboring colleges, area youth leagues, and cheering on his North Carolina Tar Heels! His early occupation extended beyond active duty in the US Air Force into a civil service career in information technology.
God broke the mold with Raymond. His character is a display of God’s "Fruit of the Spirit, “…loving, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled…”(Contemporary English Version, Gal. 5.22-23). In his 66 years, Raymond was never a stranger to anyone.
Funeral service will be held at 12:00 pm Monday, February 1, 2021 at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Burial will follow at 2:00 PM at the WC State Veterans Cemetery.
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