Carl James Kelly

Published 3:47 pm Friday, January 12, 2024

Carl James Kelly was born on Jan. 25, 1941, to Lizzie Mae (Hicks) and William Harrison “Bill” Kelly in Port Gibson. He was the first of their 11 children.

Carl attended Claiborne County Training School in Port Gibson.

He graduated at the top of the class of 1957, at the age of 16 years old. In his high school yearbook, he was credited for being in the chorus.

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His nickname was “Cool Breeze.” In his last days at age 82, Carl was shown the yearbook picture of himself with the nickname underneath, and it pleased him.

He said, “I’m still Cool Breeze.”

Know thyself. Most who knew Carl would agree that he was a quietly charismatic guy with an easy manner from his youth onward.

His mother Lizzie sometimes reminisced about how helpful her oldest son was to the family as she and his father Bill provided for the family in the rural South, during the post-Depression era. She said that, as a boy, Carl worked odd jobs and stashed his money away in a tobacco can he kept under the porch.

She could count on him to go into his savings and help in times of need.

Upon graduating from high school, Carl moved to Illinois to live with aunts Susie Mays, Mary Wright, and Josie Holmes and uncle Murphy Holmes, who was a pastor.

Carl was baptized by Murphy and further professed his belief in Jesus, the son of God. It was a doctrine he had first been introduced to by his mother.

Carl was drafted into military service circa 1959, where he served in Korea. He earned an honorable discharge from the United States Army after two years of service.

He gained employment as a Chicago bus driver in the 1960s, during a time when such jobs were coveted and attained by few.

Years later, he began a second career at Amtrak, where he was a hydraulic brake mechanic. He remained there until his retirement at age 70.

He resided most of his life in Chicago. He was very active and on the go where he lived in the neighborhood of Hyde Park.

He enjoyed reading and generally read the daily newspapers. He was keenly aware of historical, social, and political issues which were common topics of his conversation.

He encouraged younger people to further their education and vocations.

Carl was the father of Jeffrey Taylor, Carl Taylor, and Rhonda Kelly-Smith. He was grandfather to Taylor Smith and great-grandfather to Maya.

He was preceded in death by his parents, and by brothers, Robert Kelly, Earnest Charles Kelly, William Kelly Jr. (Elizabeth “Betty”) and George Kelly, and sister, Ann Kelly.

He is survived by sisters, Josie Anderson, Sarah Kelly, and Joyce Kelly (Dragan) and brothers, Dannie Kelly and Elvin Kelly (Felicia).

He also has a host of nieces and nephews, including Christy Kelly, who was by his side during his transition home.

He has many great nieces and nephews, and also cousins with whom he was close.

Carl spoke of his belief in God until the end, even as his health was challenged. His suffering ended on Dec. 20, 2023.

May Carl James Kelly rest in peace with God where he shall be whole in Eternal Life.