Born Saturday, February 16, 1957
Died Saturday, April 3, 2021
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts." ~Shakespeare
On February 16, 1957, the curtain rose and the spotlight shone when Arthur Carl Kelley made his debut into this world in Muskogee, OK. His parents, AJ and Shirley Elaine (Sullivan) Kelley were thrilled and proud to welcome him. Their pride would only continue to multiply over the years at his many endeavors. A few years later his sister Dena arrived to complete their family of four. Growing up in Muskogee he and his family were active members of New Hope Baptist church. Carl grew up on "Riverside" attending the small public elementary school there where he established some lifelong friendships. He continued on to Alice Robertson Jr. High and finally to Muskogee High School where he was active in (no surprise) theater and choir. He had an absolutely beautiful voice. He graduated in 1975.
Starting as a teenager and into adulthood, he worked summers alongside his good friend, mentor and neighbor, Joe Rector selling fireworks. Perhaps that is where he first learned to love working under pressure in a successful seasonal business. Even though it was long hours, hot and hard work, he enjoyed it immensely and held fond memories of that time throughout his life.
While attending New Hope Baptist, he became acquainted with a young woman who caught his eye. Carliss Ann (Jo) Stiglets and Carl wed in a ceremony there in the church. Their daughter Heather rounded out the trio. When son Jason Carl joined the family, he could not have been more proud. In 1979 Carl joined the ranks of the Muskogee Police Department where he served in many capacities. First on patrol, on to undercover work and then on the "DARE" campaign visiting schools and the community as "McGruff the Crime Dog" educating against the dangers of drug use. Carl and Jo bought a home in Grandview so their children could attend Hilldale schools. They were welcomed and became ingrained in the neighborhood establishing many friendships that have continued to today. As it sometimes happens, a show has a short run. The curtain came to a draw on this First Act but there was much more to come.
His Second Act began with meeting a shy but stunning brunette. Carl met Carrie Faye Worley in 1983 where after a whirlwind romance they wed in June 1984. It might have been a quick courtship but their love and commitment grew and sustained for 37 years. Along with Heather and Jason their family multiplied with the addition of Fallon Nicole and finally Jordan, who made his appearance in 1986 to complete the Kelley clan. Carl loved his children fiercely and equally. Raising them with high standards; he wanted nothing but the best for them all and expected nothing less from them as well.
With any exceptional story, the Third Act was full of change, excitement and adventure. With his family expanded, Carl grew to broaden his horizons on the career front. He left the police department to work as a law enforcement coordinator/victim witness specialist with the U.S. Attorney's office. Although he pursued with great success other business ventures, his true calling and love was always law enforcement. It came to pass though that when opportunity knocked, Carl Kelley would swing the door wide open and usher it in with gusto. While still employed with the U.S. Attorney's office, he and Carrie, after many obstacles and opposition opened Garfield's Restaurant & Pub which they owned and operated it for ten years from 1992-2002. The work they put in led the way for changes to local laws which in turn ushered in a host of new restaurants. This turned the tide for the Muskogee restaurant industry. They went on to open AJ's restaurant and also partnered in Little Italy, both great additions to the expanding restaurant scene in the community. Unable to keep up with the increasing demands of two full-time jobs, he reluctantly made the choice to leave law enforcement to focus his efforts on business projects. 1995 saw the purchase of the Jackson Hewitt tax franchise. What started out as a good investment expanded over the course of 27 years, three additional territories, five states and 105 offices. His time as a teen working under pressure, selling fireworks, served him well in the long run. Not to rest on his haunches, in 2011 he added yet another franchise. This time, something altogether different, SERVPRO. In every one of these enterprises, although varied, he along with his partner Carrie, built each one from the ground up to achieve incredible prosperity. Now with his children, these ventures will continue to serve the needs of the community. As if that wasn't enough, Carl was highly involved in many charitable and worthy organizations. A founding member of the Exchange Club of Muskogee, he was instrumental in the creation of the annual Chili Cookoff. His support was also strong in CASA, the Education Foundation of Ft. Gibson schools, 4H and FFA in the area.
The Final and Fourth Act. It is hard to tell if he entered the world this way or just evolved but there is no doubt he was larger than life. Not only did he work hard, he played hard. Free time was spent riding Harleys, traveling, playing golf and finding respite in Florida in the water and on his boat. In addition to the many accomplishments and accolades his greatest pride and joy in life was undoubtedly his 6 grandchildren. It began with Colton, followed by Zander, then Thatcher, Rayke, Jack and the most recent addition, Finley Faye.
The close of curtain occurred on April 3, 2021. The Broadway worthy performance that was the life of Arthur Carl Kelley may have ended its run but his legacy will live on for years to come.
He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Carrie Faye Worley Kelley; daughter Heather Ezell and her husband Kevin; son Jason Carl and his wife Ginger, their two children, Colton and Zander; Fallon Nicole Kelley, sons Thatcher, Rayke, Jack and their father, Brandon Wilson; son Jordan, wife Annie Felts and their daughter Finley Faye; his mother, Shirley Elaine Kelley Kilgore and her husband Robert; his Aunt Ruby, numerous cousins and extended family which meant the world to him, and many good friends as well as innumerable invaluable and long-term employees that he treated like family.
Services are to be held at 2:00pm on Friday, April 9, 2021 at Crescent Valley Baptist Church with interment immediately following at Citizens Cemetery in Ft Gibson.
The family respectfully requests that a mask be worn for all services.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made in Carl’s memory to CASA, P.O. Box 1274, Muskogee, OK 74402 or online at www.casa.ok.org
Funeral services are under the direction of Cornerstone Funeral Home, 1830 N. York Street, Muskogee, OK. Condolences may be made to the family online at www.cornerstoneofmuskogee.com.
Visitation will be at the family home on Tuesday 4/6, Wednesday 4/7, and Thursday 4/8 all day from 10am-8pm.