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The funeral for Col. (Ret.) James Alton Kelly will be Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the National Funeral Home in Clarksdale with burial to follow in Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
Visitation will be today from 6 to 8 p.m. at National Funeral Home, which is in charge of arrangements.
Col. Kelly, 79, passed away on Sunday, August 15, 2010 at 12:50 a.m. at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle in Columbus.
Col. Kelly was born October 30, 1930, in Clarksdale to Joseph Floyd and Ellie Hodges Kelly. He graduated from Clarksdale High School and went on to play football for the Ole Miss Rebels and graduated through the ROTC program.
While playing defensive back for the Rebels, he had six interceptions in one season and the opportunity to play in the 1953 Sugar Bowl.
Col. Kelly joined the U.S. Air Force after graduating from Ole Miss and spent 28 years in the USAF flying the B-47 fighter/bomber, the B-52 bomber and the C-130 aircraft while serving a tour of duty in Vietnam.
While serving his country, Col. Kelly achieved numerous medals and awards that included the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He was also recognized by the Republic of Vietnam for meritorious service. After filling a number of important positions for the USAF, Col. Kelly and his wife, Becky, retired to Mathiston.
He was preceded in death by his parents, as well as one sister, Mavis Cristil. His survivors include his wife, Becky Kelly of Mathiston; one son, James A. (Sally) Kelly Jr. of Roswell, N.M.; two daughters, Donna (Darrell) Hardcastle of Sherman, Texas and Kathy Kelly of Mathiston.
He is also survived by two brothers, Leonard Kelly of Cleveland and Ted (Susan) Kelly of Clarksdale and one sister, Linda Kelly (Bobby) Rawlinson of Clarksdale. He has nine grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and six great-granddaughters who survive him.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society, P. O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718 or your local hospice.