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James Thomas Kelly, Sr.

James Thomas Kelly, Sr.

Jan 11, 1955

Apr 21, 2023


James Thomas Kelly, Sr; 68, of Louisville transitioned to his heavenly home on Friday, April 21, 2023, in Davenport, Florida while visiting family.

Visitation 10-12 Monday, May 1, 2023 at Canaan Christian Church 2840 Hikes Lane. Funeral to follow at 12 noon. Burial Louisville Cemetery.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭4‬-‭7‬ ‭NKJV‬

James Thomas Kelly Sr. (Shimmy) was born January 11, 1955 in Louisville, Kentucky to Robert & Sallie Kelly. He transitioned this earthly life to be with Jesus Christ on April 21, 2023.

Shimmy accepted and received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at an early age and was baptized at Antioch Baptist Church on Dumesnil. As a youth, he was actively involved in all aspects of church and remained that way throughout his life. He Loved God & he was a current member at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church.

He attended Manly Junior High and Male High School, where he graduated in the class of 1973.

During those years he spent countless hours at Ormsby Boys & Girls Club developing his love for basketball, pool and a host of other sports and activities. Being a floor leader, known speedster, sharp shooter and master defender earned him the nickname “Walt” (after Hall of Famer Walt Frazier) as he and his court warriors went on to compete at a high level in Louisville’s infamous Dirt Bowl.

James worked as hard as he played and became a skilled concrete finisher at the largest construction company in Kentucky, at the time, Marble Hill. This week, you may actually drive across a bridge or walk into a office or a store and be on a foundation that “Smiley” helped finish.

So Why did they call him Shimmy, his sister Anna Mae recalls? Well, when you do something so well they may actually name you after it (“Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Puff”) and James loved music and he loved to dance! He had a flare about him, a love for bright colors and the moves to match. As he got older he traded in his dancing shoes for pool sticks and cues. Taking after his Dad, he could run circles around you on the table. He loved to play the game so much you may even catch him taking a nap on the table just to get to know it better. Many of his last days were filled at the Kling Center playing pool, on the phone with his sister Rachel telling her about who he beat or listening to her sayin who Lebron was going to beat or just spending time involved with his children and grandchildren, all of which gave him great joy.

He was a Kings Kid and he instilled in his heirs the Value of hard work; Loving God & one another; Keeping a positive attitude; Always giving your personal best; Walking away from a fight if you could, but to Stand Up and fight fiercely if it was unavoidable; To always finish what you start; Don’t Play About Your Money; And To Know Always (Often speaking in 3rd Person lol) “That Dad Is Proud Of You, That He Loves You & May God Continue To Smile Upon You,” which was demonstrated by the smiley face he would leave on every handwritten note he left.

Life didn’t always deal James the hand he would have wanted, but he played every hand with everything he had in him. During his life, he developed many, many relationships & many of those he called his friends. He was “The Mayor” of every neighborhood he lived in, very out-going, fun to be around, had a smile that would light up any room, a unique and contagious laughter (that you can probably hear right now) and would do anything he could to help his friends and family. Being a Dallas, U of K and Celtics man he didn’t mind the controversy, yet he was rarely ever controversial. He was likely one of the kindest human beings you will have ever met and because of his uncanny ability to be present in the moment when he was with you he made you feel special. “Champ” will be missed by ALL who knew him. The blessing is because he lived, we each now get to live on with a little piece of him in us.😁

He leaves to cherish his memory, his children James Kelly Jr (Kennetha), Jeremy Kelly (Kia) & Whitney Young (Donte); 10 Grandchildren Jordan, Jalen, J’adore, Jabriel, Julia, Jeremy Jr, Chloe, Elijah, Jream & Jacob; Siblings Patricia Glover, Roberta Todd, Charles Kelly, Anna Irvin & Rachel Kelly (John Kelly, Sadie Irvin & Robert Kelly preceded him in death) and a host of nephews, nieces, cousins, other relatives, church family and friends who loved him dearly.

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