Brian Keith Kelley, 60, passed away peacefully, surrounded by those who loved him most on Thursday, March 16, 2023.
Born January 14, 1963, in Champaign, Illinois, Brian was a good-natured, humble and hard-working husband, father, brother, uncle and son who loved his family and never knew a stranger. He was a great friend, die-hard Illini and Cubs fan, and an avid golfer who loved a good time and an icy cold Miller Lite.
Brian was the youngest of three children born to Wilma and Keith Kelley, originally from the hills of northwest Arkansas. The couple lived in several different parts of the country before settling down in Urbana, IL, where they would birth and raise Brian and his older sisters, Kathy Kelley and Barb Ryan (Kelley). Both Kathy and Barb cherished and loved their little brother and continued to remain close as adults.
As a kid, Brian enjoyed playing baseball, skateboarding, KISS, playing guitar, and getting into mischief at Lincoln Square Mall with his sister and cousins.
After graduating from Urbana High School in 1981, Brian married his high school sweetheart, Barbara (Weber), on April, 30th 1983. They shared 40 beautiful years of wedded bliss together. He treasured the life he built together with his soulmate. Barb was the love of his life and the center of his universe.
In 1987, Brian and Barb had their first child, Jacob Kelley, and then in 1990, their second, Kayla Kelley. Brian adored his children. He taught them how to be good, altruistic people and showed them nothing but unconditional love. He worked hard to provide for his family and give his children every possible opportunity to succeed in their own lives.
In 2014, his first grandchild, Scarlett Kelley, entered the world soon followed by her little brother, William Kelley, in 2019. Brian loved his grandchildren more than anything else, frequently taking them on trips to the library to read or to scour the field behind his house for golf balls he’d hit.
Brian was a skilled laborer and builder, working many different jobs on his way up to a Laborers Foreman, before retiring in 2021. His years in construction left him with a wealth of knowledge about how to build and fix things. From houses and subdivisions to roadways and sewer tile, he was proud to help construct parts of our central Illinois community.
Brian always appreciated the outdoors. Growing up, he enjoyed fishing and camping. His family would often travel back to Arkansas, spending time fishing the rivers and ponds in the mountains with his Dad and Grandpa. As an adult, Brian loved to hike and fish at Homer Lake with his beloved dog, Red. In the summer, you could always find Brian having a beer in his garage or building a fire for a get-together with friends in the backyard.
Music played an important role in Brian’s life. His Dad, Keith, played guitar and sang in bands while his mom was one of six kids, all of whom grew up playing fiddles and guitars, many of which were hand-made by his Grandpa. As an adult his love for music carried on, frequently attending concerts or blasting music out of a Bluetooth speaker by his fire pit.
Later in life, Brian got the opportunity to travel on vacations with family and friends. He enjoyed experiencing new cultures and trying new foods, especially fish and seafood. After retiring in 2021, he enjoyed riding his bike, cooking food on his smoker and spending as much time as he could with his family, especially his grandkids.
For his family, Brian was the life of their party. For Brian, his family was the party. He will be missed profoundly.
He is preceded in death by his mother and father, Wilma and Keith. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, his children, Jacob and Kayla, his sisters Kathy and Barb, his daughter-in-law Lindsay Kelley (Brooks), and his beloved grandchildren, Scarlett and William.
A Celebration of Brian’s life will be held at Homer Lake in the Salt Fork Center building on Friday, March 24 from 4pm to 8pm. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Lymphoma Research Foundation at lymphoma.org.
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