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Huntingdon Mayor Dale Kelley Dies

Local, State, Federal Leaders Honor His Memory

Posted 8/23/22

HUNTINGDON — Mayor Dale R. Kelley, 82, of Huntingdon, Tennessee, died Saturday, August 20, 2022, at his home.

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Huntingdon Mayor Dale Kelley Dies

Local, State, Federal Leaders Honor His Memory

Posted
HUNTINGDON — Mayor Dale R. Kelley, 82, of Huntingdon, Tennessee, died Saturday, August 20, 2022, at his home.
 
Funeral services will be conducted 11 a.m. Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at the Huntingdon First Baptist Church. Interment will follow in Oak Hill Cemetery. The family will receive friends at Huntingdon First Baptist Church on Tuesday, 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. and on Wednesday, 9 a.m. until 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: The Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center, PO Box 668, Huntingdon, TN 38344; Huntingdon First Baptist Church, 108 Church Street, Huntingdon, TN 38344; or Bethel University, 325 Cherry Avenue, McKenzie, TN 38201.
 
Mayor Dale Kelley, State Representative Dale Kelley, County Commissioner Dale Kelley, County Assessor Dale Kelley, Commissioner of Transportation Dale Kelley, Commissioner of Labor Dale Kelley,  Bethel University Director of Athletics Dale Kelley, friend, Christian, father of three, grandparent, mentor, positive thinker - all words and titles to describe Dale Kelley. 
 
Former Governor and Senator Lamar Alexander, — ““No city had a better mayor than Dale Kelley. For decades Dale’s big ideas lifted up Huntingdon and West Tennessee. He served our state with distinction and was one of the most admired basketball officials. He was a dear friend and supporter for nearly fifty years. Honey and I send our sympathy and great respect for his life to Carlene and the Kelley family.”
 
Carroll County Mayor Joseph Butler - Megan and I join in the outpouring of love and mourning with the passing of our dear friend, Mayor Dale Kelley.
 
Mayor Kelley’s impact on Huntingdon, Carroll County, and Tennessee is immeasurable. He has served as Mayor, County Official, State Legislator and Commissioner, coach, referee and officials coordinator, and athletic director at Bethel. More importantly, he was a Christian, a veteran, a husband, father, and grandfather. 
 
He has done as much to honor our heritage and shape our future as any figure in the history of Carroll County. For that, we will forever be indebted to he and his family, and will strive to continue the important work this visionary has set in motion.
 
Please join us in praying for his precious wife, Carlene, and his three children, Amanda, Meredith, and Cliff, and their families.
 
McKenzie Mayor Jill Holland - Prayers and thoughts for Dale Kelley’s family. He was a mentor and a great leader in the community, and all throughout West Tennessee. He will be truly missed.
 
Congressman David Kustoff — Roberta and I are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of longtime Huntingdon Mayor Dale Kelley. Mayor Kelley was a giant of a public servant at the state and local level. He was a veteran, a hall of fame basketball official and champion of his community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Carlene, and his children, Amanda, Meredith and Cliff.
 
Bethel President Walter Butler — “Our hearts are saddened with the passing of our Bethel University alumni, former co-worker and dear friend. His legacy to our university as a student, graduate and Director of Athletics will live on for generations to come.  Dale Kelley lived his life to help others in our area, state and even across our nation.  He lived to improve our local area and to create jobs that changed lives.  He loved to help young people achieve their goals. Our local area has lost truly ‘one of a kind’. I have never met anyone like Dale Kelley. He has been my friend since 1963 when he became my Little League Baseball Coach.” 
 
President Butler added, “Our prayers are with his wife, Carlene and his three children--Amanda, Meredith and Cliff and their families. We mourn with his family but can rejoice in the fact that we were blessed to know a Coach, a County Official, a State Representative, a Mayor, a Commissioner, an Athletic Director and a friend to all.  Our lives were blessed because we all knew Dale.”
 
Smothers is New Mayor
 
Nina Smothers, vice-mayor of Huntingdon, now ascends to the office of mayor to fill the two-year unexpired term of Kelley. Smothers is a retired pharmacist, a mom and grandmother. 
 
The Huntingdon City Charter reads, “The vice-mayor shall perform the duties of the mayor during his absence or inability to act, and shall fill out any unexpired term in the office of mayor, in which case a councilman shall be selected by majority vote of the council to serve the unexpired term as vice-mayor.”
 
Huntingdon Mayor Kelley graduated from Huntingdon High School Class of 1957, received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Bethel College, and Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bethel University. He also served four years in the United States Air Force as a communications specialist.
Mayor Kelley began his career in government service as Carroll County Assessor of Property for four years and then later served as a Carroll County commissioner for five years. He served three terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Mayor Kelley served under three Tennessee governors: Commissioner of Employment Security and Commissioner of Transportation under Governor Lamar Alexander, a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission under Governor Don Sundquist, and Senior Advisor and Special Assistant to Governor Bill Haslam.
It was Kelley’s brainchild to a develop a lake in Carroll County for economic development and recreation. In 1984, he took it to legislature and the Beaver Creek Watershed Authority (subsequently amended as Carroll County Watershed Authority) was born. He worked tirelessly from 1984 until present day on the creation and development of the Carroll County Thousand Acre Recreational Lake. He also served on the Carroll County Watershed Authority Board as secretary/treasurer. He was the mayor of Huntingdon at the time of his death, a role he held for 30 years. He was past president of the West Tenn. Mayor’s Association. He served on the Tenn. Municipal League Board of Directors, Tenn. Municipal League Risk Management Pool Board, and Tenn. Municipal Bond Fund Board. He was recognized as the 2008 Tommie Goodwin Mayor of the Year Award for the State of Tennessee presented by the Tennessee Municipal League. 
The Kelley Sports Complex was completed and named for him in 1998. He led the vision and development of The Dixie Carter Performing Arts and Academic Enrichment Center, home of the Hal Holbrook Theatre. 
Mayor Kelley was also an accomplished athlete as a basketball and baseball player at Bethel College. He was an on-court basketball official for SEC, OVC, SunBelt, SWC, and Metro conferences, where he worked nine consecutive NCAA tournaments. He was selected to officiate three NCAA Final Four competitions. He was also coordinator of officials for the Big 12 Conference, Conference USA, Sun Belt Conference, Southland Conference, and Ohio Valley Conference. Mayor Kelley served as director of athletics for Bethel University from 2012 – 2022. He was a member of the Bethel Athletics Hall of Fame, the TSSAA Hall of Fame, the Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame, and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He served on the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
 
Additionally, Mayor Kelley was the owner of K & K Real Estate and Rental Properties. 
Mayor Kelley was the 1985 Bethel College Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award winner. He was the first recipient of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce’s Carroll Countian of the Year honor. He was a Carroll County Silver Medallion Award winner and a recipient of Huntingdon’s Pinnacle of Excellence Award for outstanding leadership and accomplishments in government, athletics, and community.
 
Mayor Kelley was a member of Huntingdon First Baptist Church, since the age of 13. He was a former deacon at Huntingdon First Baptist Church serving as chairman for four years.
 
See complete obituary in the August 23 issue of The McKenzie Banner.

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