Gary L Kelly (1946-2020)
A life-long distance runner, Gary Lindsey Kelly, DDS, finished his final race on February 20, 2020. He was born on September 18, 1946, to the late Freddie Mae and William E. Kelly Jr. and was raised in Lawrence County, Tennessee. He graduated from Lawrence County High School and attended MTSU (after his son went to Tennessee Technological University, Gary became a fan of the better institution: Go Golden Eagles!). He graduated from University of Tennessee Dental School and set up a private practice in Lawrenceburg in 1972. If you were a kid in Lawrence County in the 1970s, you probably remember him drawing Snoopy or Charlie Brown on your hand during dental appointments.
Gary took up distance running in college, eventually competing in over 700 races, twice winning the Alabama 10K Masters division championship. He also completed 13 marathons (including the Boston Marathon), and won multiple 5K and 10K races over his lifetime. You could find him most days running around his Hood Hills neighborhood.
He remained an avid sports fan, faithfully cheering on the Lawrence County High School Wildcats, Tennessee Titans, and Nashville Predators as a season ticket holder. Gary was a big fan of his daughter’s alma maters as well, Ole Miss and the University of Louisville. And he loved attending his grandkids’ sporting events in Franklin, TN and Louisville, KY. He coached and refereed multiple sports, and was president of the local Babe Ruth League and Rotary Club.
He loved travelling, citing his favorite trip as attending the 2015 Army-Navy game in Philadelphia with his children. His worst trip was the year he spent in Vietnam in 1971. He served in the United States Army and earned multiple medals during his time there. Captain Gary Kelly received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, and even a medal from the Vietnamese Government for rescuing infants in a Vietnamese orphanage, getting aid from Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist charity organizations.
He enjoyed all ranges of music, even forcing his children to listen to songs no one has ever heard of, and also making them watch old musicals multiple times. “Finian’s Rainbow” and “The Music Man” were special favorites. Gary was an expert at telling the same stories over and over and never missed an opportunity to find a one-liner to inject into the conversation. He was the inventor of the Freebie Patrol and had a great ability to make even the most mundane, boring task seem fun and entertaining. He loved to eat and his favorite foods were cookies and anything that his wife, Jane Orth Kelly, made. A voracious reader, he always tried to pawn his favorite books on to other people, loved hiking the trails at David Crockett State Park and body surfing in the ocean. He also enjoyed baking and his “pizza bread” will be greatly missed.
He was an easy-going person and prided himself on being nice and well-liked. He rarely raised his voice in anger, unless it was because his teenage daughter came home 3 hours late or if his son took a called strike on a 3-2 count during a Little League game. He disliked asparagus, confrontation, picky eaters, raking leaves, complainers, and small machines breaking.
Gary is preceded in death by the love of his life, Jane Orth Kelly, and his best friend, Wayne Osborn (husband of the late Margaret Osborn). He is survived by his sister, Linda Kelly Newton; his incredible children, Jennifer Kelly Gohmann (Matt) and Ryan Kelly (Amy). His wonderful grandchildren, Sullivan Kelly, Hannah Gohmann, Sam Gohmann, Nora Kelly, and Grand-dog Stella, all adored him and were influenced by him tremendously.
All in all, Gary Kelly was the best…although he’d tell you, “Top 5, maybe.” We loved him and we will miss him every single day.
There will be a Celebration of Life for Gary Kelly on Sunday, March 1, 2020, at Platinum’s Providence Hall located at 26 Public Square, Lawrenceburg, TN. If you would like to pay your respects, please feel free to join us anytime from 1 to 5pm. In lieu of flowers, donations to the American Cancer Society are requested (www.cancer.org).