Charles “Chi” William Kelley, resident of Palm Harbor, Florida, passed away on September 19, 2020. He had been under the loving care of the Community Living Center and Hospice of the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, NC. Chi was born in 1943 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to parents John “Jack” and Viola Kelley and raised in Glastonbury, Connecticut. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife Susan Kelley, daughters Kirsten and Erin, former wife Heather, and brothers Patrick, Edward, and Joseph Kelley. He was pre-deceased by his parents and brother Larry. He resided in several towns in Florida including Tarpon Springs; Glastonbury, CT; Atlanta, GA; Lake Lure, NC; and Cabuya, Costa Rica.
Chi was athletic and hard-working in his youth, excelling in soccer and working as an iron worker and a tobacco farmhand. He graduated from Glastonbury High School and earned a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the University of Florida. He achieved great success as an artist, advertiser, and entrepreneur, creating inventive designs, logos, and merchandise.
Chi left college to volunteer for the Marines, and he proudly served our country in the Vietnam War, where he was a communications specialist in the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. He served in Vietnam 1966-1967. Later, he was active in providing resources and support to other veterans in the form of the website www.vethelper.com, his poetry about war, and informally as a trusted and valued friend. Chi died of Parkinson’s Disease, which is known to be caused by exposure to the toxin Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Chi had many passions, but his art and poetry are what will be remembered most. He was a talented and accomplished designer, painter, sculptor, and writer. His designs and paintings won numerous awards, and he published several books of poetry and wrote a memoir about his experiences and adventures. Chi enjoyed time with family, travel, unique cars, and singing karaoke to the songs of Elvis Presley. He loved nature and the outdoors, and his paintings and photographs often illustrated flowers and natural settings.
Chi will be sorely missed by his family and friends. The world will be a less colorful place without him.