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Calvin Kelley

May 12, 1928 — January 16, 2024

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Calvin Kelley, a former Perry resident who spent his career working at the post office in his hometown, died Tuesday, Jan. 16, at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City after a short illness. He was 95 years old.

 

Services will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21, at Brown-Dugger Funeral Home in Perry, with burial to follow at Grace Hill cemetery at a later time.

 

Calvin Herbert Kelley (named for two presidents in the 1920s) was born May 12, 1928, in Guthrie to Olinda and Orval Kelley, the youngest of four children. The Kelleys moved to Perry when Calvin was 2. His parents divorced and his father, an itinerant osteopath, abandoned Calvin and his siblings shortly thereafter, as the Great Depression was unfolding. His mother soon began work to support her children as a seamstress for the Gottlieb brothers at The Famous department store, on the south side of the square.

 

Calvin spent many hours of his formative years as a latchkey kid, on his own much of the time, with his mother working long hours six days a week, and his much older siblings having graduated from Perry High School and moved away. Fortunately, sports became an after-school outlet. At the time Perry schools offered only a handful of sports, but he took to two of them: football and basketball. His coach through junior high and high school was the great Harold (Hump) Daniels, who became Calvin’s de facto dad, as he was to other boys who faced similar circumstances.

 

Calvin graduated in 1946 from Perry High School, where he was class president and co-captain of the football team. Jim Tatum, the football coach at the University of Oklahoma, wrote a letter to Calvin, inviting him to Norman that fall to try out for the team. He played two seasons before leaving school to return to Perry. A few weeks later, he married Marion Bobbitt, his high school sweetheart, on Feb. 8, 1948, in Stillwater.

 

His career at the post office began later that year as a clerk but was interrupted when he was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1951. He returned to Perry in 1953 after completing his military service and resumed work at the post office. He was promoted to assistant postmaster in 1959, serving under postmaster Leo Johnson, and held the job for 12 years. At his request he transitioned to a rural carrier’s position, which he held until retiring in 1985 after more than 37 years at the postal service.

 

In retirement, he occasionally drove an activity bus for Perry schools; helped out at harvest time for a friend, Bart Brorsen; cared for his mother and brother, Leroy, at the end of their lives; and did handyman work at Harding Charter Prep High School in Oklahoma City. He followed OU and Oklahoma State sports, particularly football, men’s and women’s basketball, and softball, as well as the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

He was active for many years in the First Presbyterian Church of Perry, where he served as deacon and volunteer.

 

His wife, Marion, died in 2003. After more than 75 years in Perry, Calvin left in 2008 to live at the Spanish Cove retirement center in Yukon and be closer to family. There, he met Gail Landon; they married on July 1, 2009. She survives him, as does his son, Ed, and his wife, Carole, of Oklahoma City; and daughters Roberta Hodge, of Lilburn, GA; and Jeannie Sullins and her husband, Russell, of Oklahoma City.

 

He leaves seven grandchildren: John Kelley, and his wife, Rachel, of Arlington, VA; Mike Kelley, of Washington, DC; Maureen LeBlanc and her husband, Antoine, of Piedmont; Kelley Hodge, of Seattle, WA; Amanda Brownlow, and her husband, Danny, of Collinsville; Tatum Hodge, of

Snellville, GA; and Eric Sullins, of Oklahoma City.

 

Calvin is survived by six great-grandchildren: Hadley LeBlanc, Hunter Kelley, Calvin Brownlow, Carter LeBlanc, Patrick Kelley and Henry Brownlow.

 

Besides his parents he also was preceded in death by two brothers, Leroy Kelley and Howard Kelley, and Howard’s wife, Leona; and a sister, Dorothy Wright, and her husband, Jim.

 

The last 15 years of his life at Spanish Cove in Yukon introduced him to a host of new and interesting acquaintances, many of whom he and Gail traveled with on day trips and longer ones too, to places and things he never had experienced. It was an enriching time for him and one that his children are convinced added quality years to his long life.

 

But his fondness for Perry remained unchanged. During his career at the post office he took pride on knowing postal addresses for Perry residents all over town, to ensure that mail was delivered promptly to the right homes. That knowledge never left him. Until the end of his life he could recite addresses for people that spanned six decades. And with it, much of the history of a community that he always was proud to have called home.


His family has requested that donations in his name be made to Operation Blessing.  

Please make checks payable to Operation Blessing 803 Market St, Perry, OK 73077.  

https://ucapinc.org/ob

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Calvin Kelley, please visit our flower store.

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