Beloved Huntingdon mayor passes away

HUNTINGDON, Tenn. –A West TN mayor has passed away.

The Town of Huntingdon is mourning the loss of Mayor Dale R. Kelley.

Bethel University took to social media early this morning to announce their former Athletic Director’s passing stating, Mr. Kelley passed away on Saturday evening at home, surrounded by loved ones.

Kelley was currently serving as Mayor of Huntingdon, a title he held for 30 years. He has worn many hats in his career.

Mayor Dale Kelly, Courtesy of Bethel University Facebook

He most recently stepped down as Athletics Director at Bethel University, which he served in since July 2012.

Kelley also served on the Huntingdon school board for nine years and was the owner of K & K Real Estate and Rental Properties.

Kelley made an impact not only within West Tennessee, but also across the state.

He served under three Tennessee governors, acting as Commissioner of Employment Security and Commissioner of Transportation under Lamar Alexander, as a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission under Don Sundquist,  and as Senior Advisor and Special Assistant to Governor Bill Haslam.

Kelley served three terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Kelley was an accomplished athlete, playing baseball and basketball.

He was inducted into the Bethel athletics Hall of Fame in 1981, he was a member of Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame, TSSAA Hall of Fame and Tennessee Sports Hall of fame, which he also served on the Board of Directors.

He had a lengthy career in athletics serving as the coordinator of officials for conferences including Big 12 Conference, Conference USA, Sunbelt Conference and more. Kelley was known as one of the best NCAA basketball officials in history.

Kelley’s leadership helped to accomplish several important projects across West Tennessee. He was instrumental in the completion of the Dixie Carter Performing Arts and Academic Enrichment Center in Huntingdon and Carroll County’s 1,000-acre recreational lake project.

He also helped bring industry to Huntingdon by securing the expansion of Norandal USA Inc. and bringing Behlen Manufacturing Co. to the area.

Kelley was also responsible for appropriating funding and location for the construction of the Carroll County Airport, while serving as the Commissioner for Transportation.

Dale Kelley was loved by so many in the West Tennessee community.

Bethel University ‘s Director of Athletics, Brad Chappell stated in a Facebook post, “Dale Kelley’s impact on West Tennessee as a civic leader and visionary will be felt by generations to come. His impact on collegiate athletics is legendary, and his impact on me personally is profound. It simply cannot be put into words – I will miss him and my heart aches for his family. Bethel University mourns with them.”

Bethel University President, Walter Butler also stated in the Facebook post, “Our hearts are saddened with the passing of our Bethel University alumni, former co-worker and dear friend. His legacy to our university as a student, graduate and Director of Athletics will live on for generations to come. Dale Kelley lived his life to help others in our area, state and even across our nation.  He lived to improve our local area and to create jobs that changed lives. He loved to help young people achieve their goals. Our local area has lost truly ‘one of a kind’.”

Butler also added in the post, “Our prayers are with his wife, Carlene and his three children–Amanda, Meredith and Cliff and their families. We mourn with his family but can rejoice in the fact that we were blessed to know a Coach, a County Official, a State Representative, a Mayor, a Commissioner, an Athletic Director and a friend to all.  Our lives were blessed because we all knew Dale.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and the West Tennessee community during this time.

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