James Ware Kelley, Jr, known lovingly as “Jimmy”, died Saturday, July 20 at the age of 82 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Born in Northumberland County, Jimmy was on Jarvis Creek where he spent his entire life. He was the son of Virginia Conley Kelley and the late James Ware Kelley, Sr.
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Married to Alice Lee Chilton in 1960, they raised three children. Jimmy was a proud waterman like many of his ancestors. He was active and successful in petitioning and lobbying laws to aid waterman’s rights, specifically related to snapper rigs. He was featured in National Fisherman Magazine in the early 1980’s for his accomplishments in the snapper rig industry. Always an entrepreneur, Jimmy had a passion for developing and engineering new business ideas. Kelley Bait, formed in 1974, employed one of the original single seine boats on the Chesapeake Bay. This combined a unique fishing net design to catch and sell the first individually, quick-frozen menhaden bait to its customers. Jimmy was actively developing new business ideas right up to his passing.
Always social, Jimmy loved being with people. For instance, he rarely missed his Friday night “meetings” with local friends at Eubank’s and breakfasts at McDonald’s. Jimmy thrived being with family and friends new and old. He was well-known as a great dancer and continued dancing right up to his last days. His passion for the waterman’s culture was widely known with his boats revered as his children. Jimmy was a member of Bluff Point United Methodist Church, the Virginia Waterman’s Association and the Northern Neck/Middle Peninsula Parkinson’s Support Group.
Survivors include his mother, Virginia Conley Kelley and brother, Thomas Delano Kelley, both of Kilmarnock; three children, James Ware Kelley, III, of New York, NY, Kimberly Faye Kelley and son-in-law Drew Seath of Rowayton, CT and Thomas Chilton Kelley of Kilmarnock, VA; grandson, Matthew Thomas Kelley of Kilmarnock.
Family will receive friends at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 23 at Bluff Point United Methodist Church, 2595 Bluff Point Road, Kilmarnock, VA 22482, followed by service at 11:00 a.m. Reception at the adjacent Bluff Point Community League will follow. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Northern Neck/Middle Peninsula Parkinson’s Support Group, RWC Foundation/Parkinson Support Group, 132 Lancaster Drive, Irvington, VA 22480 and the Virginia Waterman’s Association, 1430 Jarvis Point Road, Kilmarnock, VA 22482.