Mayor’s friends speak of his motto, ‘Service before self’

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Former Chancery Court Judge Walton West



Four close friends of Mayor Dale Kelley spoke of the highlights of his life at his funeral. But when all said and done, The Rotary Club creed, “Service above Self,” was a part of each one’s remarks.

“He was a monument of that motto,” said Walton West. “He wanted jobs for people.”

West noted that Dale grew up poor and he knew what it was all about.

“He was focused on making lives better,” said West. “Gratitude is man’s greatest sin. How many times do we stop a person like him and thank him when we go to the lake?”

He also spoke of the support of Carlene his wife who gave him encouragement, respect, being a friend, an admirer, loved him and tolerated him.

While he went around the states, Carlene was at home taking care of the couple’s three children, West pointed out.

“God was pleased with his mission in life – service before self,” concluded West.

Bethel University President Walter Butler 

Walter Butler said he first met Dale in June 1963 when he was nine years old.

“My first association with Dale was when I played Little League and he was my coach,” said Butler. “He organized the Young Republicans organization. I went to the first meeting.”

Butler said he was a great encourager. Often people would ask if would write a letter of reference for them if they were seeking a job. Butler called attention to the fact that former governor Lamar Alexander called Dale the best mayor ever known of any town. Dale served in Alexander’s administration as Commissioner of Transportation and Commissioner of Employment Security. 

Butler noted that The Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center, Home of the Hal Holbrook Theatre and the Carroll County 1,000 Acre Lake were projects that came to fruition under Dale.

He said in closing remarks that Dale ran a good race.

Carroll Bank & Trust CEO Mike Cary

Mike Cary said he had known the family all his life.

He talked about the major economic impact that Dale has has had on Carroll County. He assisted in the location of several industries in the county.  He was a major player in Granges’  major expansion that added high-paying jobs.

“He used his talents for God’s glory,” said Cary.

He talked about they mayor’s vision, faith, leadership, determination, encouragement, and hope.

“He was a master negotiator,” said Cary.


The Dixie’s former Executive Director Lori Nolen

Lori Nolen said the mayor believed in order to have visions of the future you had to reflect on the past.

“He believed in moving things forward,” she said. “He created a team to do incredible work.”

She recalled that former city recorder Martha Taylor said he was revered as a mayor.

He visioned the lake and The Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center.

“Dale Kelley laid a foundation for years,” she said. “We have a charge because he left us a task. He stood for no negatively.”

Rev. Jacob Harris & Cliff Kelley

Rev. Jacob Harris, pastor of Huntingdon First Baptist Church said in the service,

“Live as you want to be remembered.” 

In further talking about Kelley, he said, “We will continue to be blessed for his family was raised to love the community and God.” 

Kelley’s son, Cliff, shared his memories of his dad. He went though several titles that he had obtained over the years.

“But to me he was daddy,” he said.

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