Eleanor ‘Nora’ Kelly

BLYTHEWOOD – With great sadness, the family of Eleanor “Nora” Kelly-Kelly announces the death of their beloved mother, sister, grandmother, and aunt – Eleanor Kelly-Kelly – on Dec.10, 2020, at her home in Blythewood.  Born Jan. 29, 1932.  She was the third daughter and one of eight children born to Elijah and Alice Kelly of Blythewood. 

Eleanor was always a woman of uncommon dignity and grace and as such, she insisted that her children call her “Mother.”  Her parents, Elijah and Alice Simons Kelly, were lifelong members of the Good Aim Baptist Church, and Eleanor, along with her siblings, spent most of her free time in church. As expected, she developed a deep and strong relationship with Christ at an early age, which would help her live the rest of her life to the fullest.           

Eleanor attended the former segregated Bethel School and excelled as an “A” scholarly student. At the age of 16, she joined her older sisters in Washington, D.C., where she completed her education.  She later moved to New York City, where she lived for 10 years before returning to Washington, D.C. to be closer to her siblings.

It was in D.C., that Eleanor gave her life to the Lord under the Morris Cerullo World Evangelism Ministry. She later became a member of Evangel Temple in D.C., where she was a member for many years.  A quiet, pensive, introspective and delicate woman with a spirit of selflessness, Eleanor was never one to shout about her own achievements, yet she was able to accomplish a lot during the time God gave her.  She was a music librarian at the former WTOP Radio, the leading radio station in the DC metropolitan area.

In this capacity, Eleanor was the support arm for many of the old R&B legends such as James Brown, Marvin Gay, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Red Fox, Moms Mabley, Little Richard, Clarence Carter, Irma Thomas, Chuck Berry, Big Joe Turner, Johnnie Lee Hooker, Sam Cook, the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Supremes…and even Jerry Lee Lewis – as their music helped shape what we know as soul and rock and roll. Eleanor managed and had access to their appearances at various venues, interviews, public appearances, and concerts at the famous Howard Theater. This included coveted backstage passes and invitations to receptions and dinners.  Seeking a different employment experience and an advanced opportunity, Eleanor was subsequently employed with the Federal government for 19 years, working in the U. S. Marshals Service, the Treasury Department, the National Science Foundation, the HQ Air Force Systems Command, the Agriculture Department, and Vanderburg AFB in Santa Barbara, California.  It was at the Treasury Department that she met the love of her life, her Prince Charming, Moses Kelly. She and Moses eventually relocated to Santa Barbara, California during former President Ronald Reagan’s term of office, where Moses was assigned to the Western White House.  Upon returning to the D.C. metropolitan area, she and Moses decided to retire to Blythewood, the home of Eleanor’s youth.

Eleanor joined the Sisterhood Ministry (formerly the Missionary Society), taught adult Sunday school and helped complete the first written history of the Good Aim Missionary Baptist Church. She volunteered at the McKissick Museum, attended the University of South Carolina, created beautiful pottery, knitting, jewelry making, sewing beautiful quilts and pillows and volunteered for the United Way, Jerry Lewis telethons, NAACP events, the Kroger Theater, the Columbia Christian Women’s Association, was a member of The Society, Inc., an organization supportive of the arts in the Columbia area and served as an administrator for the Deacon Elijah Kelly, Sr., Memorial Scholarship Fund for 25 years. In 2017, the Kelly’s daughter, Doris Colman, returned to the family home in Blythewood to care for both parents as their cognitive abilities began to rapidly decline. 

Eleanor is preceded in death by her husband, Moses B. Kelly, a World War II veteran and former Secret Service Agent, on Dec. 5, 2019. She is survived by her children, Doris E. Coleman, Blythewood, S. C. and Bruce W. Branch, Oxon Hill, Md; five beautiful grandchildren: Robert (Carmeil), Bethani, Kelly, Nathaniel, and Maya; 3 great-grandchildren, Kala, Kai, and Kaya; three loving and devoted sisters, Mrs. Alberta Colbert, Stone Mountain, GA; Mrs. Melva Brinkley (James), Washington, D.C.; Dr. Grace Coffey (William, deceased), Ellicott City, MD; and one brother, Elijah Kelly, Sr. (Joan), Silver Spring, MD, and a  host of loving nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and extended loving family members.

She is also preceded in death by her parents, Elijah and Alice Kelly, Sr., her sisters, Mrs. Allie Brewton, Dr. Mae Wright, and Dr. Florine Jones. 

Eleanor will forever be remembered and known by her formal and elegant, yet unarming dignity, whose grace and beauty defined her. She was, without question, a woman of character, personality, intelligence, and beauty – an inspirational woman as a result of her resolve during some of life’s difficulties.

Rest in peace our dear Eleanor, our loving mother and grandmother, our sweet sister, our wonderful friend, for God has called your name and you have finally received your regal crown!