Estus "Es" Robert O'Kelley

estus o'kelley
ESTUS "ES" ROBERT O'KELLEY CANDLER – Estus "Es" Robert O'Kelley, 73, of Bailey Rd., Candler, died on Tuesday, December 14, 2010. A native of Buncombe Co., he was a son of the late Rufus W. and Gracie Sames O'Kelley. He was also preceded in death by a son, Estus O'Kelley, Jr. He was retired from B.A.S.F after 37 ½ years. He was a member of Piney Mountain United Methodist Church, where he served as a trustee, sang in the choir, and served as president of the United Methodist Men. He was a volunteer fireman for 42 years for the Upper Hominy Fire Dept. He was a devoted community volunteer. He was an avid fisherman, teller of jokes, and friend to all. He loved his "Panthers" and his Tar Heels. He is survived by the love of his life of 53 years, Katherine "Kitty" Warren O'Kelley; daughter Sarah Blankenship and her husband, Brent, of Candler; son Steve O'Kelley and his wife, Becky, of Arden; grandchildren (whom he loved more than life) Lauren and her husband, Will, Erin and her husband, Brock, Hannah, and Dillon; sister Georgia Greene of Clyde; and brothers Sam O'Kelley and his wife, Jane, of Candler, Joe O'Kelley of Eastover, SC, and David O'Kelley. A funeral service will be Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at Piney Mountain United Methodist Church, with the Rev. Ron Hartman officiating. Interment will follow in the church cemetery. His family will receive friends from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at Groce Funeral Home on Patton Avenue. In lieu of flowers, please make memorials to the building fund at Piney Mountain UMC, 36 Piney Mountain Church Rd., Candler, NC 28715, or to Upper Hominy Fire Department, PO Box 190, Candler, NC 28715.

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Memories Timeline


  1. To the O’kelley family: Our hearts just sunk when I heard this news. We loved Estus so much. I can just remember his halloween mask.. It was GREAT! Estus was a wondeful man and will be missed greatly here in the Upper Hominy Community. Love to the O’Kelley family.

  2. Kitty, I’m so sorry to hear the news. He was an amazing man and will be greatly missed. You & your family will be in our thoughts & prayers.

  3. Dear Kitty and family,
    We are so sorry to hear about Estus.He was a great man who loved his family, his community and GOD very much.
    Buddy and I thought so much of him and enjoyed working with both of you at the fair.
    May GOD be with you and your family during this trying time. We send our love and deepest sympathy.
    Buddy and Irma Rudisill

  4. So sorry to hear of Estus’ passing. I know that he was a wonderful husband and dad. Your memories of him will sustain you during this sad time. God will wrap his loving arms around your family and help ease the pain. You are in my daily thoughts and prayers during this time. Love to you and your family.

  5. Kitty, Sarah & Steve: I just read about your great loss of Es. I do remember him fondly from years ago. Please know that my family loves yours so much. God Bless You.

  6. Dear Family,
    I just wanted you know that your all are in my prayers during this time. Mr. O’Kelley was always so very kind to me each and everytime I saw him. Rarely did I get to leave his presence without him telling a joke or asking about my family. Steve and Sarah, I know you are so very proud to have called him your father. May God bless you and continue to hand you in his hand.

  7. We were so saddened to hear of your loss. Your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Donald, Cindy, Cody and Ryan Edwards

  8. Es was special. He always made me smile. He loved my girls. He made me laugh. He was the most unselfish person I knew. He loved my Aunt Kitty. I will miss him. My girls will miss him too. He fed Addison mashed potatoes for the first time. He let them use his easy button when he was trying to hear the tv. He always had a ‘joke’ that I thought was true. We will miss him so much.

  9. Kitty, Sarah & Steve: I just read about your great loss of Es. I do remember him fondly from years ago. Please know that my family loves yours so much. God Bless You.

  10. Kitty, Steve, and Sarah-

    Mom just called me to tell me about the loss of ‘Mr. O’Kelley’. He was such a big part of my childhood, as were each of you. I specifically remember, in 2nd grade, being at your house when a chicken decided it was a good idea to come after me. Chased me all over the back yard. Mr. O’Kelley came running out of the house, chased down the chicken, and scooped her up in his arms. I think he was more afraid I was going to hurt the chicken than the chicken would hurt me!

    Love to you all, during this difficult time. You will be in my prayers.

  11. We have a big hole in our hearts! Uncle Es will be missed. Love and prayers for all. This is one of those times we do not like being so far away. We are holding you up in prayer Aunt Kitty! God bless

  12. To my life-long friend, Kitty: I don’t think I have ever been as shocked as when I heard that you had lost Es. Every time I saw you and Es, you both were always smiling and laughing. As others have said, he seemed to be a friend to everyone. I know he was an excellent husband, father, friend, neighbor, etc. The list can just go on and on. Knowing how Es liked a joke, I’m sure he would have really laughed about me sitting on my glasses yesterday and breaking them, while I was clearing away the tears from my face after I talked with you.

    Irene and B. C. Mills

  13. Kitty, And the Family,
    Sorry to here about the loss of Estus.I was in the Fire Dept. with him for a short time and he was a joy to work beside in the Dept. HE will be greatly missed. May God bless you all.

  14. Kitty, Sarah, Steve and his grandchildren, what a shock it was to hear of your loss, it’s not only your loss but the whole Hominy Valley area will miss him, he always had a little joke to tell and as has been said by many, you and Estus always had a smile on your face and that always made those in you presence feel good. May God be with all of you in the days ahead and when a smile comes to your faces for no reason, just think he probably was whispering you a joke. From your sports family as we spent many hours at sporting events through the years supporting all our kids. With much love to all of you.

    The Massie family

  15. Kitty, I was shocked to see that your husband had died. I didn’t know him well, but he was always smiling and welcoming at our class reunions. May God give you His peace and comfort during this time. Know also that your EHS classmates love you and are keeping you in their prayers.

  16. Dear Family,
    I was shocked to hear of Mr. O’Kelley’s passing. One can never be prepared for this kind of loss. He will always hold a special place in my heart for the kindness he showed me whenever I was in your home or met him out in the community. I know that words can seem meaningless at this moment but I hope that all the love that is being shown through these condolences will comfort you in days to come. Please remember you are all in my prayers and God will make a way for you to get through this.
    Love to all!

  17. Kitty and Family, My deepest sympathy in the death of your beloved husband, Father and Grand Father. Estus was one of a kind. He will be so missed by all that knew him and loved him. It was my priviledge to have known such a wonderful person for so many years. My prayers are with the Family. Deepest Condolences, Jewel (Moore) Atwood

  18. Kitty and family,though the shock of your great loss rings out to friends and family I want to say that Es will be remembered by many as a man that shared his smile, wit and love for people. When my children were small and we were neighbors he always had time to share with them and was a pleasure to have known.My prayers are with all of your family during this time of loss. To have known such a man was truly an honor. God be with each and everyone of you during yout hour of need.

  19. My deepest condolences to the family. Es has been a part of so many lives and four generations of my family. It has been an honor to have known him. He will be greatly missed. Thoughts and prayers.

  20. Kitty, Judy and I are very sad to hear of Estus’ passing. He was a true friend as he helped with our lawn and at the polls with Judy. We will certainly miss that smile and sense of humor that made him special. May God comfort you and your family during these days.

  21. We are so sorry for your loss!! Your family is in our prayers and thoughts each day during this time. May God bless you and give you comfort. Your family is loved very much.

  22. Kitty: Was so sorry to see this in today’s paper. Will be remembering you in thoughts and prayers in days ahead and particularly during this season. Carolyn and Gerald Stamey

  23. Kitty, I was shocked to hear of ‘Es’passing on to heaven. We will miss him at our ‘Burger King’ get-togethers but he will be there in spirit. We had not known him very long but he was a blessing to us. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this trying time.
    Buddy & Janice Cochran

  24. Kitty,Sara, Steve and family, we were so sorry to hear of your loss. We will miss Es out and about at the church and always throwing up a hand along with a smile. He has been a blessing to our community and will be greatly missed! May you find comfort in the Lord as only He can provide during a time such as this. We understand the additional impact of a loss during this season as we too lost Clarence during the Christmas holiday. Love to all.

  25. Kitty, Sarah, Brent, Lauren and Hannah: I am so sorry to hear of Es’s passing. I have so many wonderful memories of him as we watched our girls play volleyball. He always had a smile and a kind word for me. Now those smiles and praises are being met by our Lord. May God bless you all.

  26. The loss of such a great man weighs heavy on my heart. Yet, having known him throughout my life and having been influenced and moved by his postive light eases that weight. He will be greatly missed but will live on in the hearts of all of us who love him.

  27. Kitty and family we were shocked as most were to hear of Es’s death. Rick & I both enjoyed talking to him and he always had a joke or a tale to tell. He always called me Evir (not even sure how to spell that). He will be trully missed by his friends, church family, and the whole community where he gave so willing of his time. I am sure he’s having a wonderful time singing in that heavenly choir. We love you and are here when you need anything.

  28. Sorry to hear that ‘Es’ passed away! Since someone told the ‘chicken’ story, I’ll tell one on Es from about the 5th grade! Our teacher whipped us with a ruler/stick if we missed words in spelling and reading. Once she whipped Es for his error, and caught his pants on fire–he had matches in his pockets. (Mary Watts)

    Seriously, we are saddened at his death, and you have our sincere condolences. We love you and will say a little prayer for you!(Mary Watts and son, Randy Cogburn)

  29. Sarah and family, We are so sorry to hear of Mr. O’Kelley’s passing.. We will be keeping your family in our prayers and even though you will miss him terribly.. it is comforting to know that you have one more angel in Heaven waiting for you..God Bless Your Family throughout the holidays and the days after.

    Bruce,Rhonda and Tyla King

  30. Kitty and Sarah, We are so very sorry for your great loss of Estes,husband and father and especially at this time of year. We pray God’s Blessings on all of you and may he give you peace.The Wises Howard,Willene,& Donna

  31. Kitty and Sarah, We are so very sorry for your great loss of Estes,husband and father and especially at this time of year. We pray God’s Blessings on all of you and may he give you peace.The Wises Howard,Willene,& Donna

  32. We have many fond memories of Es and will never forget him. He has been a great help to Mother and Elaine for many years and as good a friend as anyone could ask for. His involvement in church and the fire department has been exemplary and deserving of more honor than he has received. May God comfort you in your time of grief. We will keep you in our prayers.

  33. Kitty and family,
    Sorry to here about Estus.It was a shock to here about him passing.My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  34. Kitty and family,
    Sorry to here about Estus.It was a shock to here about him passing.My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  35. So sorry for your lost.Es has out striped us and made home to heaven. Sarah, Brent,Loren and Hannnah you are special to Sandra and me, we love you guys. Pray God presents will be with you through this sad departure.

  36. Kitty,
    God must of needed a really special angel up there in heaven? He will be missed by so many. May God Bless You during this time and give you the courage and strength to know Estus is up there with him now.

  37. It has been an honor to know Estus and his family. He was so thoughtful and kind. We will miss his wonderful smile and sparkling eyes. I will never forget the great gravy he made for our mens breakfast. God bless. Terry and Kelly Bassett.

  38. Dear Kitty & Sarah – We just heard about Es today and were so saddened to hear of his passing. We are so sorry for your loss–he will be dearly missed. Praying God will grant you peace and comfort during this difficult time. Blessings – David & Nancy

  39. Estus was always such a nice person and will be missed by all that knew him. He worked with my father, Jim Lance and my brothers, Charles and Jimmy at Enka. Charles, ‘Bubba’ as the guys there called him, thought the world of Estus. We just saw you guys at the Enka High craft show this past weekend so this is such a shock. Your in our thoughts and prayers.

  40. Papaw, I love you more than words can express and you will be present in my heart forever. What a smile, what a laugh, what warm hugs you gave. Brock and I will miss you terribly but we will smile at all of the wonderful memories. You have the sweetest soul in the world and I can only imagine the wonderful impact you will have in heaven. I love you.

  41. Kitty, we are saddened to hear of Estus’s death. The whole community will miss his kind, friendly smiles and greetings. I know that words cannot do him justice but we hope that these messages will comfort you. You and your family are in our hearts and prayers.

  42. I’ve thought for days as to what I should say and am as confused now as when I began. The usual condolences seem trivial. The usual spiritual promises, although true, somehow seem a little less than what needs to be said. Es lived as I hope more of us will. Talk about Jesus when we have to but live like him always. When we forget that Jesus laughed and fished and had a good time then we forget Jesus but most of all he spent his time with others, helping them with their needs. Estus O’Kelley understood that and lived that and I think that is what I admired most about him. Our prayers are with all of the family because we do know the Lord will see you through this.

  43. Dear Sarah,
    I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family will be in my prayers. May God comfort you with precious memories of your years together here and the wonderful day when you will be together again.

  44. My thoughts and prayers are with your family during this sad time. I pray that in the coming days, knowing Es is spending eternity in a wonderful and joyful place, will help you find comfort. Take care and may God bless your family.

  45. Sarah – I know the pain of losing a dad and I am so sorry for your loss. I didn’t know your dad, but it is clear that he was a wonderful man. Hold your memories close to your heart until you see him again someday. Know that I am praying for you and your family through this very sad time.

  46. Kitty and Family: We are so saddened and shocked to learn of the sudden loss of Estus. How important it is to live every day as God intended! It is our prayer that you all will find great peace through your memories of his life in Christ here and will find comfort just to know you’ll see him again! Our deepest sympathy to you all.

  47. Ms. ‘Kitty’ and family,

    We will never know the number of lives that Es touched during his time here. The difference that he and his tight-knit group of men from Hominy Valley and Piney Mountain have made in our community can not be measured. Es sets a high standard for fathers and husbands to follow today. I will never be able to think of grandpa ‘Bud’ without thinking of Es as well. May God bless you during this time.

    Jason and Nikki Horn

  48. Dear Sarah,

    I’ve thought so much about you and your family the past few days and pray you’re finding that special peace God provides at times like this. When Dad died, I remember seeing your big, smiling face; not just that afternoon, but a number of times over the past three years. Thank you for always asking how Mom was doing; to remember and to ask really means a lot when you’re learning to deal with this. I hope I can do the same for you too.

    Beverley (…the little one)

  49. Kitty,
    I am sorry for your loss, but happy that Es is at home with his Lord. Ever since the first year you worked at the Fair, I remember thinking ‘what a wonderful team you were’. You both have touched many lives (including mine) in very special ways. Es was a tremendous man who always had a smile on his face, and we will all miss part of the ‘team’. I will continue to keep you in my prayers.

    Alan Caldwell

  50. Kitty and Family,

    My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. Es alway’s had a smile on his face and he will be truly missed. May the Lord comfort you, knowing that Es is in Heaven.

  51. My condolences to the family in your time of sorrow. May God bless and be with all of you.

    Reece Bowen
    ‘A’ Shift BASF

  52. To Kitty and all the family,
    We will surely all miss Es. He was always such a joy to be with no matter where you saw him. He was smiling, telling some funny tale, or helping someone in the community. As I have been reading the guestbook, it seems that everyone has great memories of him. What a great servant of our Lord and Savior! May God’s grace be with all of you during this difficult time.
    With our love,
    Carl,Kim,Colby & Connor

  53. I’m so sorry for your loss. You all are in my thoughts and prayers. I love and admire your whole family as you all have touched so many lives with your kindness.

  54. Kitty and family–I was so stunned to hear of Es’ passing. I know it was quick and merciful for him, but I can’t imagine how hard it has been on you all. As I explained to my daughters who he was, all I had to say was ‘he was the Bingo man!’ and they knew in an instant. They were just as saddened as I am. Somehow I don’t think Bingo at the fire dept will ever be the same. We will be praying for you in the days and weeks ahead…he was such a gentle, kind man with such a good heart. I have no doubt you will see him again.

  55. Our deepest sympathy to you and your family in your time of sorrow .May God bless and comfort you and guide you with love…

  56. Kitty~ We would like you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. Estus will be greatly missed. From all of us at Kim and Donavans.

  57. I know all of you are tired and weary after the tremendous amount of people came to the funeral home. So many loved Estus for the person he was and the love he generated. I seriously believe he ‘preached his own funeral’ by the way he lived and the presence of so many of his friends tonight. Hold on to all the good memories you have of him. I know you will always have him in your heart.

    May God’s presence be your strength, comfort, grace and peace.
    When what you are feeling is simply too deep for words and nothing anyone does or says can provide you with the relief you need, God understands. Cast all your cares on Him.

    God loves you and I love you.

  58. Dear Kitty, Sarah, Steve and family,

    You have all been in my thoughts and prayers since hearing of your tremendous loss. Es loved and was so proud of his family, as well as his community! He was a great role model to all in the valley. He will greatly missed by those that came in contact with him.

    I pray that God will give you strength now and in the days ahead.

  59. Sarah I am so sorry for for your loss. I don’t think we’re ever ready to lose our fathers. My prayers are with you and your family at this sad time.

  60. Miss Kitty we are so sorry for your lost.We know that Mr. O’Kelly is with our lord & you will see him again..Our prays are with you and your family..

    Roy & Pam Rogers

    Roy Rogers

  61. Sorry to hear of Es passing, he was truly a man of God. I remember the first time we met(in girl scouts)he had a sweet spirit about him, that only true men of God have. What a legacy.You are all in our prayers,and we send our love.

  62. Dear Kitty and Family, We are so sorry of your loss. May God hold you near and carry you during this time.

  63. Kitty & Family,

    We were so sorry to hear about the passing of Papaw Es. We all loved him greatly. I am so thankful that God blessed me to be surrounded by Godly Christian men such as Es, to set a great example of being a loving husband and father, a community servant and mostly a servant to our Lord and Saviour. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. May God bless you.

  64. our thoughts and prayers are with all of you during this difficult time. sincerely- peggy and charley justice

  65. I work with Wanda at Asheville Cardiology. So sorry to hear of your loss. You all are in my prayers and thoughts. Sheila Shope King

  66. Sincere sympathy and love to your entire family at the time of your great loss, especially to Hannah who played softball with Steelie.

  67. Dear Kitty,
    All of our love and prayers are with you and your family. What a joy it was to work with you and Estus at the fair every year. We love you.

  68. Dear Kitty ans Family, I was so sorry to hear about the passing of Estus. He was such an asset to our community and he will really be greatly missed. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. May God comfort and bless all of you.

  69. Kitty,

    We were so shocked and saddened to learn of Es’s death yesterday at church.

    We always will cherish the memory of Es, his love of his family and LORD, wonderful sense of humor and contributions to our community throughout the years.

    May GOD bless you and the family during this time.

  70. Kitty and family,
    I know you are at a loss right now, but remember you are not alone. God will go with you through each day. It was so good to see you both recently at Mom’s visitation. You are in our prayers.

  71. You all are in our thoughts and prayers. Not a day has gone by that we haven’t thought about you. Es was such a pleasure to work with at the Fair, always smiling. He was a very special person and will be missed by us all. With love, Larry and Linda Franklin

  72. Kitty, Steve and Sarah,
    So sorry to hear about your loss in the passing of Es. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Praying that God will bless you with peace and comfort. Thanking God for our blessed hope of eternal life found in CHRIST or Lord.

  73. PaPaw, You will be missed! You brought joy to all our hearts and I will truly miss you. It was a great Honor to meet you. I promise that I will take care of your Little Erin. I love you!


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