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George W. Kelley Jr.

Updated: Jul 2

Glade Spring, Virginia


George W. Kelley, Jr. age 83, passed away peacefully on June 30, 2024. He has shed his earthly shroud, mounted his bike and rode off down the Milky Way to meet his loved ones who predeceased him and to meet his Lord to learn the answers to the questions that eluded him during his lifetime. 


George was predeceased by his parents George W. and Virginia (Ratcliffe) Kelley, by his brother Harry, by a favorite Uncle Alfred E. McThena and by several aunts, uncles and cousins.


His sister-in-law Maggie Miller Kelley Brewer, his nephew Travis Miller and wife Kristy, his great nephew Cody Miller and several cousins survive him.


His nephew Travis Miller has been a faithful supporter that gave George the courage to push onward after he became confined to a wheelchair due to the failure of his knees. Other friends and neighbors also pitched in to keep George looking forward with hope and the expectancy that help from them was only a telephone call away.  A special thanks is extended to George’s schoolmates Fred and Shelby Lester who helped George overcome many of the hurdles during his declining health.  Wendy Davis and Kalin Ferguson, Lee and Bridget Creasy, Ben and Morgan Creasy are also due a hearty “Thank you” for their contributions to George’s excellent care. 


George found happiness in his associations with a succession of canine friends comprised of four German shepherds and two border collies.  When George hiked over the hills, camped in Hoot Owl Hollow or canoed on the Middle Fork of the Holston River there was always his current dog accompanying him.  He also enjoyed bike riding on the Virginia Creeper Trail where he captured colored slides that he shared with many people.  He had ridden over 16,000 miles when an unfortunate slip of a foot injured a knee and ultimately brought his bike riding to an end.


His curiosity also drew his attention to the night sky.  He kept a stable of optical instruments, each suitable for observing objects specific to his interests. He was a former member of the Bristol Astronomy Club, the Astronomical League and of the American Association of Variable Star Observers to which he contributed over 11,000 variable star magnitude estimates during his stargazing career.  He was recognized by the AAVSO for being the first of their observers to discover and report the explosive eruption of Nova Cygni 1975.


George graduated from Glade Spring High School then Washington County Technical School where he studied drafting.  Thereafter he was employed in the Design Division of the Bristol District Office of the Virginia Department of Transportation.  In addition to preparing plans for highways in southwest Virginia he was eventually assigned the duty of monitoring and reporting the status of the major components that make up sets of plans that were being prepared for advertisement.  He enjoyed meeting the challenges of his job.


George enjoyed learning.  He enjoyed sharing knowledge with youngsters – the future promise of our nation. He never hesitated to accept invitations from area schoolteachers to share his enthusiasm for learning with their students.  He chuckled when he recalled how one day he emptied a county elementary school by showing a class of students how to safely observe a solar eclipse using two paper plates and a straight pen to punch a projection hole through one of them.  Soon taking notice, the entire student body appeared out on the lawn to join in the observance.  He also gave lectures to Boy Scouts so they might earn Merit Badges in astronomy.  Never one to pass up the opportunity to teach he became a first aid and CPR instructor for American Red Cross and the Virginia Department of Transportation.


He was a member of the now closed Kelly’s Chapel Methodist Church where for a time he served as the teacher for a Sunday School class.

 

The family will receive friends on Friday, July 5, 2024, from 6:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. in the Frost Funeral Home Chapel.  A memorial service will follow at 7:00 P.M. with Pastor Dewey Brown and Bro. Jerry Miller officiating. Inurnment will be held privately.

 

Frost Funeral Home and Cremation Services is honored to serve the family of Mr. George Kelley Jr.




7 comments

7 Comments


Nic D
Nic D
Jul 05

George took me under his wing early into my young life. We hadn't met prior (maybe when I was a baby), but when he learned he had a family member interested in physics and astronomy, we quickly became close, eating breakfast at the Abingdon Burger King every other Sunday morning for years, with my Uncle Craig. The memories of those conversations, and our excursions to the Creeper Trail, are all unforgettable. I thought the line in the obituary about George finally finding answers to his lifelong questions was beautifully written and echoes the sentiment I had, too: George is no longer in pain, no longer struggling for something as simple as basic comfort. He is among the stars, learning all…

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Nic, This made me tear up. I know how much you loved George. He was a wonderful person. I remember the night Grandmother picked us up and took us to George’s to look at the stars in his telescope. That’s the night they showed me the “ Big Dipper “ I often look up at the Big Dipper and think about that night. George was a good man with an incredible story. Love, Hailey.

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George, our cousin was a great guy. He was a man of wisdom, intelligence, love for his family, animals, the outdoors and Astronomy. The fondest memories of our childhood were the "Ratcliffe" family reunions at Uncle George and Aunt Jenny Kelly's home on the river. George had the canoe and homemade fishin' poles ready to take down the river. Best food ever and a trip to the "springs." George, we will be able to pick you out of the stars at night, you will be the brightest. The Ratcliffe Family: Joyce, Mabel, Carolyn and Curtis

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Sheriff Blake Andis and the Members of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office would like to express their sympathy in the death of George Kelley, Jr.  If our Sheriff’s Office can be of assistance to you during your time of sadness, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Sheriff Andis and Members of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office

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George was a wonderful friend, neighbor and teacher. He enjoyed nothing more than sharing his astronomy knowledge with others. Jake learned so much from George and enjoyed the visits to observe the wonders of the night sky with his telescopes. George loved his dogs and I can only image the Rainbow Bridge reunion with his beautiful Enya and comical Bobby, his two border collies from our bloodline. THe Kelly's Chapel community has certainly lost a valued member and a true friend.


Janet, Randy and Jake Lester

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I remember when George invited me and my then family to a hotdog cookout behind his home. He shared stories of his boyhood as we all gazed out into a clear night sky , George lovingly smiling as he talked on what the stars were as he pointed them out. He made you feel like time stood still. George came alive when he was doing what he loved the outdoors. He is truely now a BIG STAR looking down on us.He never waisted time and never knew a stranger. He will be greatly missed.

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