Elton Ellis “Pete” Kelley was born in Troy, Texas, the eighth of eleven children born to Samuel James Kelley and Cora Lucile Swaim on November 12, 1930. He was preceded in death by his parents, siblings Marvin Ray, Swaim David, Weldon James, Authula, Joyce Lucile, Donell, Marie Cora, Dorotha Faye, and Ewell Hunt, son Terry Kelly, daughter Sheryl Riddle, and stepdaughter Peggie Capps.
He is survived by his wife of 27 years Alla Friday Kelley, the grandson he raised Dylan Kelley, son-in-laws Mike Riddle and Duane Capps, grandchildren Jeff Riddle and wife Lynn, Kimberly Riddle Stokes and husband Daniel, Greg Riddle and wife Rachelle, Cory Capps and wife Rachel, and Kimberley Capps Costello. He is also survived by his 17 great-grandchildren Ashley Stokes Velligan and husband Eric, Justin Stokes and wife Emily, Jacob Stokes, Austin Stokes, Breanna Riddle, Colton Riddle, Elise Stokes, Collin Riddle, Ryan Riddle, Alexa Riddle, Blake Riddle, Colton Costello, Weston Riddle, Zachary Capps, Harper Capps, Chance Costello, and Dean Kelley, along with 2 great-great grandchildren Kinley Velligan and Jackson Velligan. He is also survived by his sister Arjorie.
Pete grew up in Lubbock working as a soda jerk at Halsey’s Pharmacy and a lineman for a local telephone company, graduating from high school at the age of 15. At 18, he entered a profession that would encompass the next 63 years of his life. He began redressing rock and seismographic drilling bits at C.C. Smith in Lubbock, alongside his brothers Swaim and Donell. He continued his trade at many Houston-area companies, including Gulf Tex Equipment and Bill White Company. Due to his specialization and reputation, he single handedly operated Pete’s Bit Service in Sealy from 1985 until his retirement in 2011.
Although very successful professionally, Pete’s true passion was his family. United in marriage on February 14, 1988, he was unshakably devoted to Alla. That devotion was also carried over to his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. Settling in Sealy in 1982, Pete and Alla spent many years building their own home that would become the centerpiece for the family. When not at work or home, they would attend every possible function that involved their family, whether down the street or across the state. In addition to holidays and family reunions, they proudly attended countless games, concerts, recitals, birthday parties, and he often excitedly took on the role of Santa Claus at Christmas events.
Pete was a member of Sealy Church of Christ, were he met a circle of lifelong, inspiring, deeply devoted, and spiritual friends. He frequently offered his services leading enriching hymns with his rich bass voice to the acapella tunes of the congregation. He attended many spiritual singing venues all over South Texas, and his incredible voice is forever immortalized on an album recorded at the Rice Avenue Church of Christ in Houston. Pete was also a member of the Garden Club of Sealy for ten years, serving three years as President.
His presence was felt in every room he stepped into, and not just because of the array of colorful suspenders he wore. His love of conversation was constant, filled with endless stories of his trips and adventures. People were fascinated with his memory of streets and highways of multiple cities and towns all over Texas, the details indelibly etched on his brain, and those who know him well considered him to be better than a map. Pete’s memory of jokes was also extensive, but he always managed never to tell the same one twice to the same person. He was a man who was loved and adored, and will never be forgotten.
A visitation was held from on January 22, 2016, at the Fourth St. Chapel of Knesek Bros., 768 Fourth St., Sealy, TX 77474. A funeral service was held Saturday, January 23, 2016, also at the Fourth St. Chapel. Interment followed at Hartsville Cemetery in Wallis.