Charles "Earl" Kelly, 79, of Newport, North Carolina, passed away on Monday, August 28, 2023, at the Crystal Coast Hospice House.
The family will celebrate Earl's life with a memorial service to be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, September 9th at Holly Springs Original Free Will Baptist Church, 182 Holly Springs Road in Newport, officiated by Rev. Mitchell Parker.
Earl was born on February 26th, 1944, and raised by his mother Clara Lewis Kelly, and father Jim Kelly on a farm in Newport, along with his twin brother, younger sister, and older brother. There are many stories of his life growing up on the farm and this is where he lived all of his life except for very short periods when he lived in different parts of Newport in his early adult life. After graduating from Newport High School in 1963, he attended Wilson County Technical Institute where he studied mechanics. He then began his working career by joining the United States Coast Guard Reserves as well as full-time employment at MCAS Cherry Point as an aircraft mechanic for the Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF) where he worked for approximately 35 years.
He was attached to the USCG Reserve at Fort Macon through his enlistment, where he achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer before retirement from the reserves. He was able to do some traveling during his time with the Coast Guard. He was called to active duty to provide support at different times during his enlistment. One of the best memories of his Coast Guard career was being asked to provide security support for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Anyone who knew him had likely heard the story of the trip and had probably seen him wearing his prized Olympic hat that he kept through all the years until he lost it a few months before he passed away. Another notable role he played with the Coast Guard was as a support crew member during the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989.
Outside of the decades of service to this country, Earl was known to enjoy mowing grass much more than the average person. He often mowed the grass around the Kelly farm two and three times per week. He didn’t enjoy weed eating quite as much as mowing, but he enjoyed keeping the place where he was raised looking neat. He could be seen in the bottom of a ditch swinging his Stihl weed eater even on 95+ degree days and continued that until he was nearly 70 years old.
Earl also enjoyed dancing and often attended singles club dances in and around eastern NC. He often joked that he was dancing from the capital to the coast. His dancing style had been described as being similar to the movements of a spider, so he began calling himself Spiderman. He could be seen as a participant in local parades wearing a Spiderman costume and dancing while riding on a trailer or even in the bed of his truck. He used this persona hoping to add maybe a small amount of joy or distraction to people’s lives.
Earl was known to be there to lend a hand to family and friends and he enjoyed using his skills and mechanical knowledge every day of his life.
He welcomed a granddaughter named Isla Grace in 2013, and she held a deep place in his heart until his last days. She had a special name for him. She called him Grandgaggy. His favorite words to say to her, and she to him, were “I love you a little bit”, and those were the last words he said to her and the last words she said to him over the phone two days before he passed away.
He is survived by his wife, Lynn Kelly of Newport; son, Brian Kelly and girlfriend Britni Simmons and their daughter Isla Grace Kelly of Clayton; twin brother and sister-in-law, Allen and Joan Kelly of Raleigh; sister, Frances Corbett of Newport; sister-in-law, Pat Kelly of Newport; nieces, Tammy Kelly and her fiancé Freddie Harris of Louisburg, Melissa Kelly Nielsen of Salt Lake City and her three daughters; nephew, Todd Kelly and wife Sherry of Newport; great-nephew, Travis Kelly and wife Blayke and their two sons of Clayton; and brother-in-law, Victor Reynolds of Morehead City.
Earl was preceded in death by his father and mother Jim and Clara Lewis Kelly of Newport; his older brother Ronnie Kelly of Newport; and his brother-in-law Bill Corbett of Newport.
Other special family members include stepson, John Yates and wife Ashley Yates; step-granddaughters, Katlyn Yates and Emmy Chase; nephew, Allen Moody; nieces, Kim Moody and Lorrie Henry and husband Mike. Decades-long friends and co-workers at MCAS Cherry Point, Robert and Beverly Evans of Maysville, and friends, Tammy Carter, Brian Holt, Ricky and Diane Johnson, Charles and Susan Long.
A special acknowledgment to the Albert (deceased) and Helen (deceased) Penny family of Newport. The Penny family was an important part of Earl’s life when he was a young adult. A very special and heartfelt thank you to the nurses, staff, and volunteers at the Crystal Coast Hospice House in Newport for their care and compassion for their patients and their families.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Crystal Coast Hospice House of Newport or toward organizations supporting Dementia and Alzheimer’s Research.
Family and friends are welcome to submit online condolences at www.mundenfuneralhome.net
Arrangements by Munden Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc. in Morehead City, N.C.