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Annie Kelly 78 of Benton Harbor transitioned on October 12, 2018, at Hanson Center in Stevensville, MI. Legacy farewell services will be held on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, at Beautiful Gate Baptist Church, 809 Territorial Ave, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 with visitation starting at 11:00 am followed by service at 12:00 noon.
In the wee hours on Friday morning, October 12th, 2018, Mrs. Annie Carol Kelley, 78, slipped on her robe of glory and transitioned into eternal peace surrounded by her closest family and friends.
Annie Carol was born in Egypt, Mississippi on December 6th, 1939 to the late Fred Lee and Margret (Roseburgh) Wren. She was the eldest of five girls and lived in Tupelo, Mississippi until the age of 10 when her mother was the first in her family to migrate north to Benton Harbor, Michigan. She attended Hull School and Benton Harbor Sr. High where she was a cheerleader and played basketball. After high school, Annie Carol met and married Larry Bell and they were blessed with their one and only child, Barbara Yvonne. The couple moved to Chicago for a short time before Annie Carol returned to Benton Harbor because she missed her family and being spoiled by her parents.
Later, Annie Carol married Obe Lee Kelley and they were together for over 40 years until his transition in 2007. They loved entertaining family and friends and in their later years, played cards together at the kitchen table where she always “won.”
Annie Carol joined the Beautiful Gate Baptist Church family under the leadership of her late brother-in-law, Pastor C.M. Jones Sr. and was overjoyed when her nephew became Pastor. She served on the Mother’s Board and as an Usher for many years, and also sang in the Choir and spent time in charge of the Pastor’s Aid, Pastor’s Anniversary and the Kitchen ministry. One of her favorite scriptures included John 14:27 (…Let, not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid). Annie Carol was a bold Christian who knew God for herself and often said that “God don’t like no coward soldier.” As the Matriarch of the family, she was a confidante to many. She believed in tough love and telling you what she said God loved and that was the truth, whether you wanted to hear it or not.
Annie Carol was employed at Auto Specialties for over 17 years where she was a union steward. She also worked at American Laundry and Williams Box Factory among other companies around Southwest Michigan. Never one to be idle, after her husband’s passing, she came out of retirement and worked as a bus monitor, serving the students of Benton Harbor. She enjoyed her job and loved “making fun” of the children she encountered on her daily routes. She worked until illness forced her second retirement in 2017.
As a surrogate grandmother to her great-nieces and nephews, she was affectionately known as Granny T. Her door was always open to family, friends and neighborhood children. Despite her tough disposition and exterior, she absolutely loved children and they adored her. It gave her great joy to prepare traditional southern meals for her family. And, similar to her mom, she was known as one of the best family cooks and would often have a house full on holidays.
Annie Carol had a very determined spirit. She was headstrong, stubborn, could be brutally honest and as a witty comedian, had a nickname for everyone (whether you knew it or not). She was a tough woman who persevered through her pain and discomfort by continuously attending church, working, visiting friends and her most favorite activity, “going up the road.” She loved listening to gospel music, watching Westerns, Family Feud, and Young & the Restless. She was an avid fan of basketball, especially the Golden State Warriors.
Annie Carol was preceded in death by her parents and husband; sisters Bobbie Jean, Mary Helen, Ella Louise (Rev. Charles Sr.) Jones and many of her in-laws. She is survived by her daughter, Barbara (Jeffery) Sistrunk and grandchildren Ronald (Sherita) Coleman II of Lansing, Michigan; K’ntrice (Chike) Coleman-Anadumaka of Chicago, Illinois, David Mason Jr. and sister, Maudie Moss both of Benton Harbor; her great-grandchildren Ronald III, London Reid and Navey Grace, all of Lansing; sisters-in-law Dorothy (the late Sammy) Groves of South Bend, Indiana, Beatrice Kelly, Annie Bell Davis, Jeanette Banks and Jerlene Kelley-Lewis all of Lansing; brothers-in-law Jonathon of South Bend and James Kelley of Benton Harbor.
Annie Carol had a great love for her family and was extremely proud of her nieces, nephews and their children. She leaves to mourn Brenda (Emmitt) Davis, Guyla (Marcus) Armstead, Charlene, Rev. Charlie (Regina), Freddie, Kinyata, William (Tacarra) Jones and Warren Clark. She was also very close to her cousins and last surviving aunt, Annie Lenzy. Annie Carol will be greatly missed by her friends and family.