Betty Jean Kelley

AUGUST 21, 1933 – JUNE 9, 2021

Obituary for Betty Rhodes Kelley August 21, 1933 – June 09, 2021

The final chapter of Betty Rhodes Kelley’s earthly life was written on June 09, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. Being obedient to the will of the Master, she answered the call and quietly went with the Lord.

Betty was born August 21, 1933 in Union, South Carolina, a daughter of the late Mattie and Steven Rhodes. She was one of eight children, all of whom are now deceased.

Betty graduated from McBeth Grammar School and Sims High School, both in Union, South Carolina. She was crowned Miss Sims High and was valedictorian of her senior class. She next graduated from Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina with a degree in middle school education, specializing in mathematics. At Allen University, Betty was crowned Miss Allen and awarded the senior superlative “Prettiest Girl in the Senior Class”. Further studies were done at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, South Carolina and the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.

Betty married Willie A. Kelley (deceased) in 1958. To this union, three children were born: Reginald (Annette), Jackie (Preston), and Jean (Marshall – deceased).

Betty taught 8th grade mathematics in Cross Keys, South Carolina; Gray Court, South Carolina; and Union, South Carolina. She was a talented and committed teacher, going above and beyond to reach all of her students and connect with their families. She found opportunities to use her gifts outside of the school day, tutoring students after school, teaching summer school and night school for adults, and teaching students who were ill through a homebound program. She took great pride when her youngest daughter, Jean, followed in her footsteps, joining the teaching profession.

After retiring from teaching in 1989, Betty moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to live with her eldest daughter, Jackie, and her beloved son-in-law, Preston. She lived with Jackie and Preston for over 30 years, moving from North Carolina to Georgia, then to Florida, and, finally, to Texas. Betty also cherished long visits with her son Reginald, who helped care for her over the years, in addition to vacations around the country with each of her children and their families.

From a young age, Betty was passionate about her faith. As a child, she joined Bethel AME Church in Union, South Carolina where she eventually served faithfully as a deaconess, devotional leader, and youth director. She later became affiliated with other churches during her lifetime, serving in a number of capacities: (i) Saint Mark AME Zion Church (Pineville, North Carolina) – member, deaconess, and holiday program coordinator; (ii) Henry Baptist Church (McDonough, Georgia) – member and vacation bible school teacher; and (iii) Christ Fellowship Church (Delray Beach, Florida) – member. Betty loved to organize church events including Easter programs and Christmas plays. She also enjoyed singing in the choir. She delivered meals to sick and shut-in church members and always made room in the car to pick up anyone who needed a ride to church on Sunday.

Betty was also active in the broader community. She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and the Order of the Eastern Star. She regularly served as an election poll worker, always staying abreast of political developments and never taking for granted the right to participate in the democratic process. Her volunteerism was only one facet of her generosity – Betty sent cards and resources to so many over the years and was quick to gift nearly anything admired by a guest. Betty had such a capacity to love people. She will be remembered for her beautiful smile, joyful heart, kindness, and grace.

Additionally, Betty was an opinionated woman of great strength. She raised three children while working tirelessly, instilling lasting lessons of faith and ensuring each of them had a solid educational foundation. She also beat cancer three times and refused to allow her light to be dimmed by physical ailments. Betty found joy in her family, especially her kids, her grandkids, and her great grandkids. Whether she was traveling on a casino trip with Reggie, cheering on Jackie and Jean at their tennis matches, or sneaking cokes, blue raspberry suckers, or Mr. Goodbars with her grands, Betty knew how to have a good time and left her loved ones with so many precious memories.

Betty was a prolific writer and family historian; generations to come will treasure her notes and recollections. While her family and other loved ones miss her deeply, we take solace in her words:

“Only with God’s strength can you survive heartbreaks. Life is not always so easy, but Jesus is there to hold your hand, and He will carry you through the valleys. I thank God for my family, and my last words to you are: Ask God to guide you because He loves you and never makes mistakes.”


Graveside Service

June 14, 9:00 am – 10:00 am


6300 South R.L.

Thornton Freeway

Dallas, TX 75232