A Dedication to Excellence That Has Remained Constant

Jeter Memorial Funeral Home

Sign up for updates on new obituaries

In Loving Memory

William "Bill" Richard Kelly

December 13, 1931 – February 1, 2021

William (Bill) Richard Kelly, 89, of Friendswood, Texas passed away peacefully on February 1, 2021.  Bill was born on December 13, 1931 in Atlanta, Georgia to parents Ella Maie and Philip Kelly.  He was raised in Atlanta, Georgia and moved to Memphis, Tennessee as a junior in high school and graduated from Messick High School in 1949 where he played baseball and participated in ROTC.  Bill was awarded a full Navy scholarship at Georgia Tech University where he participated in their Naval ROTC program.  He graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1953.  Upon graduation he was commissioned an ensign in the Navy and assigned to Naval Flight Training in Pensacola, Florida.  He received his wings in September 1954 and served a 2-year tour of duty with Fighter Squadron 54 operating out of Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, California.  While at Georgia Tech he met the love of his life, Carolyn, on a blind date to a Navy Ring Dance and they were married on June 25, 1955.  After an Honorable Discharge from the Navy in September 1956, Bill accepted a position with General Electric as a Jet Engine Test Engineer in Cincinnati, Ohio where he also obtained an MBA from Xavier University. 

Bill and Carolyn moved to Texas in 1962 where he began his career with NASA in the Mercury and Apollo program offices.  He held many Director positions with his last being Director, Administration.  Bill retired from NASA after a 32-year career in June of 1994.  He won many awards (too many to mention) including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive.  One of Bill’s proudest achievements was pioneering the creation of Space Center Houston working with Walt Disney Imagineering to bring this project to life.  He served as Chairman of the Board for Space Center Houston for many years.

Bill had a successful career at NASA, but his life truly revolved around the church and his faith.  He joined Friendswood United Methodist Church in 1964 and probably served on every committee of the church at one time or another.  Bill organized many golf tournaments, blood drives and was a friend in faith to many!  Bill had a servants heart and was dedicated to loving and helping other people. He loved visiting people in the hospital and actively gave his time to many organizations including Hope Village, Innovative Alternatives, The Gideons International, United Way, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America to name a few.

Bill and Carolyn raised three daughters and enjoyed their 8 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. Bill enjoyed playing golf, Vegas trips with his daughters, and never missed a child or grandchild’s activity.  He was their biggest fan.

Bill was preceded in death by Carolyn, his wife of 63 years, his sister, Marjorie Kelly, and his parents Ella Maie and Philip Kelly.  He leaves behind 3 daughters: Marty Johnson and her husband Bubba, Linda Ratcliff and her husband Brent, and Stacey White and her husband Brett.  His eight grandchildren; Blake Johnson (Lauren), Kyle Johnson (Lauren), Reagan Ratcliff (Kacey), Zach Ratcliff (Kelly), Hunter Ratcliff, Kelly Ratcliff Bires (Micah), Cameron White (Stacey), Chase White (Sierra).  His great grandchildren; Bennett, Penny and June Johnson, Asher, Ruth and Piper Ratcliff, Evelyn Ratcliff, and Eli White.  Pall Bearers will be his eight grandchildren.

There will be a memorial service held at Friendswood United Methodist Church, 110 N. Friendswood Dr., Friendswood, Texas 77546  on Friday, February 5, 2021 at 11:00 am with visitation for visitors beginning at 10:00 am.  There will be social distancing and masks will be required.  The service will also be live-streamed, and the link will be available at FriendswoodMethodosit.org. There will be a private family burial at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Friendswood United Methodist Church, 110 N. Friendswood Dr., Friendswood, Texas 77546, or to The Foundation for Hope Village, 15403 Hope Village Road, Friendswood, Texas 77546.

Live stream link:

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook

18 thoughts on “William "Bill" Richard Kelly”

  1. Gerry O'Farrell

    Blessings to Bill's family and comfort in knowing he is resting in heavenly peace.
    Many fond memories of the blessings he and Carolyn shared over many years to all.

  2. Mr. Kelly was an amazing man who left an amazing legacy. He touched SO many lives and never met a stranger. He also handed out SO MANY Gideon Bibles ! He definitely left his mark here on earth. RIP Mr. Kelly. Tell Caroline Hello until we meet again.

  3. Lisa Burke Cushing

    Kelly Family-please accept my sincere condolences. Your father and grandfather was a remarkable man who gave so much to the Hope Village community. I so admired him and his commitment to helping people.
    May he rest in eternal peace. Sending peace, love and comfort to all of you.

  4. Keith and Pat McClung

    Bill epitomizes a servant of Christ. Integrity, empathy, generosity, honoring his commitment and so many more attributes are part of my memory of his productive life. He will always be a model for me. Thank you Bill. Praise for the Joy you have eternally!

  5. Few persons have accomplished as much for so many other people. Bill was a great boss, as nice as they come, and easy to admire. Condolences to his family.

  6. I had the honor of working with Bill for many years at Hope Village. Nothing would hold him back when we needed something done. The first to say "what are we waiting for- let's do it!". His leadership has touched the lives of all our Villager's and staff. A wonderful man that is truly missed.

  7. Wayne Whittington

    Bill was one of the finest men I have ever known; honest to a fault, supportive of all of his employees, and literally loved by all. As a side note I recall the ruler story one of his daughters told at his retirement. Many times over the years I thought of calling him, but never. God bless the family.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss. He was a great man. I watched the service which was a wonderful tribute to his life. May he Rest In Peace.

  9. To: William "Bill" Richard Kelly Family
    Dear Kelly Family:
    My husband and I are sorry for the pain you are feeling, and we desire to provide some comfort. (Colossians 4:11) We realize it is difficult to know the right words to say to someone who is overcome by grief. Yet, the Bible provides a wonderful insight on the matter at John 11:17, 33-35—Jesus gave way to tears, even though he knew that he was about to resurrect Lazarus. Jesus' tears confirmed his love for Lazarus' family-Mary and Martha.
    At this time, grief may not be completely removed; but no doubt many of your loved ones have provided you a measure of comfort and solace. (1 John 3:18) Although, it is also consoling to know that the Creator, the God of comfort, will eliminate all grief and provide permanent consolation as stated in John 5:28, 29 American King James Version "28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth;…
    The Creator has provided so many comforting scriptures to note a few: Psalm 20:1; Psalm 31:7; Psalm 38:8, 9, 15; Psalm 55:22; 121:1, 2; Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 66:13; Philippians 4:13 and 1 Peter 5:7.
    Regards, The Landers

  10. Hal and I are so sorry for your loss. He was a good friend to us and anytime he would hear that we had been to Space Center Houston, he would ask why we hadn't come to him for tickets. Also, a number of years back, when Eleanor Little gave him cemetery plots in Pearland to use for a fund raiser at the church, he bought two and we bought two beside his. After that, every time we would see each other, he would say, "Hi neighbor." Our love and prayers are with all of you.

  11. Lisa and Steve VanMeter

    We are sorry to hear of Mr. Kelly’s passing. He was a kind man with a heart to serve. Over the years, he had a ready smile for many and an opportunity to share his “light” with others. We send our prayers to all the family, his beautiful daughters, grandchildren and son in laws. He was very proud of them all!
    He was assigned to the dinner table at the Atria with my dad where I had an opportunity to hear of his (their) loves as Astro fans, Mustang supporters and their pride and love of family.
    He touched many lives.
    May he Rest In Peace.

Leave a Reply to Keith and Pat McClung Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

311 N. Friendswood Dr.
Friendswood, Texas 77546


311 N. Friendswood Dr.
Friendswood, Texas 77546

E-mail Us

Proud Member

Website Developed in the USA, locally, by Source Web Solutions, Inc.