Russell “Dewey” Kelly, 73, died on Sunday, May 30, 2021 at his home in Cameron, NC. Dewey was born on December 22, 1947 in Sanford, NC to Bryant Moody Kelly and Elizabeth Bunnell Kelly and was the second of eight children. His family farmed dewberries, tobacco, soybeans, and anything else that would put food on the table. Dewey was drafted into the United States Army when he was 18 years old and bravely fought on the front lines of the Vietnam War. When he returned home in 1969, he met his 10-month-old daughter for the first time.
After returning from Vietnam, Dewey briefly worked for the USDA as a chicken house inspector and vowed never to eat chicken again, a promise he kept until his dementia advanced. For the remainder of his career, he was both a tractor trailer driver and then a dump truck driver for the family business, Kelly Sand Company. He was rightfully proud to be in a trade that kept America running and was a patriot in every sense of the word.
Dewey loved his Mama, his entire extended family, his precious grandchildren and International tractors. Not surprisingly, his favorite photos were of him on tractors with his grandchildren. He took great pride in growing enough sweet corn to feed everyone in the community and delighted in planting watermelons and pumpkins for his grandchildren to pick. Additionally, he was a skilled marksman and thoroughly enjoyed skeet shooting with family and friends, fishing on the NC coast, and he was always repairing something. He took great pleasure in dove hunting every year, a tradition carried on by his son and grandsons.
Dewey did many things well but perhaps he will be most remembered for how he could cook a pig to perfection. For decades, Dewey was called upon by family and friends to have pig pickings for various occasions. He concocted his own sauce because he never could find one that suited his perfect palette. His slow-roasted BBQ was legendary.
Dewey’s unmistakable laugh and quick-witted sarcasm were replaced by Lewy Body dementia way too early. He knew he was starting to forget and requested to be on his farm until his death, a promise that his family honored.
He was preceded in death by his father, Bryant “Moody” Kelly. He is survived by his mother, Elizabeth Neal, children Michelle Kelly Sims (Daniel) and Russ Kelly (Cheryl) and his grandchildren Samuel Kelly, Karissa Sims, and Elisha Sims. He is also survived by two stepdaughters Tasha Gwyn (Jamie Wilson) and Shanna Gwyn with grandchildren Willow Wilson and Connor Gwyn. Additionally, he is survived by his siblings: Bryant Kelly (Betty), Carter Kelly (Donna), William “Billy” Kelly, Terry White (Larry), Betty Normandin (Jim), Doris Kelly, and Kathy Kiker (Eric).
In years past, Dewey’s favorite shirt read, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven” which aptly summed up his relationship with The Lord; Dewey knew he needed a Savior to reconcile him to God. We have great hope knowing his eternity is with Jesus.
The family will receive visitors on Thursday, June 3rd, from 5pm to 8pm at Dewey’s farm. His Celebration of Life service will be Friday, June 4th at 11am at Ephesus Baptist Church with a pig pickin’ to follow immediately in the fellowship hall.
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