May 11, 1920 – December 28, 2012
Service: January 3, 2013
Mr. Arthur M. “Bud” Kelsey passed away on December 28, 2012, in Johnson City Medical Center.
He was born in Johnson City in 1920 and was the son of Joseph Evans Kelsey and Lou Fern Kelsey.
Bud or “Kelsey,” as he was often called, was a proud Johnson City native and loved to tell stories about the “old days” and history of the town. In his early teens, he began living and working at the Fire Station on Walnut Street that is now the Firehouse Barbeque. He became a Johnson City Fireman at age 16 and enjoyed telling people that he drove a truck like the one in the restaurant. He worked as a fireman through high school and until World War II.
He was a graduate of Science Hill High School and an All-State guard on the undefeated Hilltopper football teams of the late 1930s. He was honored to be a member of the Science Hill Athletic Hall of Fame.
Kelsey was a World War II veteran serving in the Army Air Corp. He attended Milligan College and graduated from East Tennessee State College. He began working for the Press, Inc. in 1948 and retired after 40 years. He managed the WETB radio station for 32 years and also served as the news coordinator for WETB and the Johnson City Press-Chronicle.
Kelsey was also an active member of the community and served on the Board of Directors of the Johnson City Power Board and the Johnson City Boys Club. Other memberships included the Johnson City Lions Club and the First Presbyterian Church. He also served a term as vice president of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters.
He was well known for his quick wit and endless supply of jokes, quips, and stories. He often served as after dinner speaker or master of ceremonies for Johnson City meetings and events. In his later years, he enjoyed telling stories with the coffee group at Hillcrest Drugs and during lunch at the Shamrock.
Other than his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Milburn Kelsey; sisters, Lucille Love, Kathleen Perkins, and Ellen McKinney all of Johnson City, and Mary Stokes of Baltimore, Maryland.
He is survived by his wife, Eileen Street Kelsey, who he had affectionately called “his bride” for 70 years. Other survivors include his daughter, Connie Kelsey Hawkins, of Cornelius, North Carolina; granddaughter, Kelsey Hawkins Willard and husband Andrew, of Greensboro, North Carolina; grandson, Michael T. Hawkins, of Cornelius, North Carolina; great grand children, Samuel Willard, Robert Willard, and Mary Lynn Willard, of Greensboro, North Carolina; sisters, Pauline Sifford and Margaret Keller, of Johnson City, and brother, Robert Kelsey, of Lancaster, Kentucky; Aunt, Frances Fern, Abingdon, Virginia. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, including niece, Barbara Sifford Leonard and her husband G.W., who provided local support and emergency contacts for many years.
Special thank you also go to his neighbors and “adopted family,” Dr. Allan Colyar, wife Jennifer and Allison and Grace who significantly added to the time he could stay in his home and his quality of life and Butch Carr, faithful driver and companion.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Science Hill High School Athletic Department, Attn: Keith Turner, 1509 John Exum Parkway, Johnson City, Tennessee 37604 or the Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center, 907 Barra Row, Suite 102/103, Davidson, North Carolina 28036.
The funeral service for Mr. Kelsey will be conducted at 2:00 P.M. Thursday, January 3, 2013 in the East Chapel of Appalachian Funeral Home.
The family will receive friends Thursday from 12:00 until 2:00 P.M. in the East Parlor.
The graveside service and interment will follow at Happy Valley Memorial Park.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at www.appfh.net.
Appalachian Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 800 E. Watauga Ave., is serving the Kelsey family. (423) 928-6111