SFC (RET) Earnest Kelley

April 18, 1919February 20, 2021

Earnest Kelley, 101, of Hamilton, Georgia died on Saturday, February 20, 2021 at his home surrounded by his loving family. He was born on April 18, 1919 in Morehead, Mississippi to the late Rosie Lee Scales Kelley and Charles Asberry Kelley. He grew up during an era where life wasn’t as simple as it is today. Mr. Kelley was one of fourteen children. He left school to help take care of his family. Mr. Kelley joined the United States Navy and was stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked by the Japanese. Mr. Kelley was on the USS Helena along with his oldest brother, Charles, after the attack Earnest was lost for three days and Charles was lost for seven days each brother thinking the other had been killed in the attack. Mr. Kelley was reunited with his brother after being rescued. He continued to serve his country during WWII in the Navy. After his service with the Navy Mr. Kelley joined the United States Army. He served in the Korean War and retired after 20 years from the Army. Mr. Kelley was stationed at Fort Benning during his While in the Army Mr. Kelley was stationed at Fort Benning, Kelley Hill was named for Mr. Kelley.

After his retirement from the Army Mr. Kelley knew the importance of financial independence, he went on to continue his education. He obtained his real estate license. He worked with real estate investors and became a broker, mortgage broker and manager of his own properties.

Mr. Kelley traveled to Honduras in July of 1971 and met the love of his life, Eva Luz Hernandez Madrid. They were married on February 17, 1972 and soon moved to the United States to begin their life together. They lived in Bloomfield, Michigan, then to Miami, Florida and finally residing in Hamilton, Georgia. Mr. Kelley and his new bride were inseparable, they enjoyed living life together. His passions were her passions, and one of those passions was gardening. They loved to travel and just spend time with each other.

Mr. Kelley leaves his loving memory to be cherished by his loving wife of 49 years, Eva Kelley; his children: Mirna Rapalo Maldonado and her husband, Leonidas “Leo” Maldonado, Jose Antonio “Tony” Rapalo Hernandez and his wife Denia Gamez, Enez Osborne and her husband Joe Osborne, Howard D. Kelley; his grandchildren: Rhonda Mormon, Tunisia Hobbs, Stacy Hernandez, Jerry Hernandez, Mirna Jiovanna “Jiovannita” Lopez, Eva D. “ Loli” Hernandez, Jose Antonio Hernandez, Kelyn Pineda, Earnest A. “Ernestico” Rapalo, Genesis D. Gamez, David Antonio Rapalo, and Evan A. Rapalo; his (like a son) nephew, Ralph Coleman; his siblings: Charles Kelley, Jr., Essie Williams, and Frank Kelley. Mr. Kelley was preceded in death by his parents, Charles Asberry Kelley and Rosie Lee Scales Kelley; his son, Earnest T. Kelley; and his siblings: Ida Mae Rivers, Hattiebell Baker, James Kelley, Essie Mae Robinson, and Ethel Kelley. A special thank you is extended to Reina Suarez, Judith Hernandez, Yoselin Otiz and her husband, Major Juan Ortiz, Paula Jimenez and all the neighbors in the Winding Lake Subdivision.

A visitation for family and friends will be held on Friday, February 26, 2021 at Striffler-Hamby Morutary in the Edgewood Hall from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM. A Celebration of Earnest’s Life will be held on Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 11:00 AM in the Edgewood Hall of Striffler-Hamby Mortuary with Reverend Jimmy Culpepper officiating. Burial will follow in Parkhill Cemetery with Military Honors. Services at the funeral home and the cemetery will be lived streamed through Striffler-Hamby Mortuary at Parkhill Cemetery’s Facebook page. For those attending the services please follow the guidelines in wearing face covering and social distancing.


  • Rosie Lee Scales Kelley, Mother (deceased)
  • Charles Asberry Kelley, Father (deceased)
  • Eva Kelley, His Loving Wife
  • Mirna O. Maldonado (Leonidas "Leo" Maldonado), Daughter
  • Enez Osborne (Joe Osborne), Daughter
  • Jose Antonio "Tony" Rapalo Hernandez (Denia Gamez), Son
  • Howard D. Kelley, Son
  • Earnest T. Kelley, Son (deceased)
  • Ralph Coleman, Nephew "Like a Son"
  • Rhonda Mormon, Grandchild
  • Tunisia Hobbs, Grandchild
  • Stacy Hernandez, Grandchild
  • Jerry Hernandez, Grandchild
  • Mirna Jiovanna "Jiovannita" Lobez, Grandchild
  • Eva D. "Loli" Hernandez, Grandchild
  • Jose Antoni Hernandez, Grandchild
  • Kelyn Pineda, Grandchild
  • Earnest A. "Ernestico" Rapalo, Grandchild
  • Genesis D. Gamez, Grandchild
  • David Antonio Rapalo, Grandchild
  • Evan A. Rapalo, Grandhild
  • Essie Mae Robinson, Sibling (deceased)
  • Ethel Kelley, Sibling (deceased)
  • Josephine Kelley, Sibling (deceased)
  • John Kelley, Sibling (deceased)
  • Charles Kelley, Jr., Sibling
  • Grover T. Kelley, Sibling (deceased)
  • Rosetta Murray, Sibling (deceased)
  • Herman Kelley, Sibling (deceased)
  • Ida Mae Rivers, Sibling (deceased)
  • Hattie Bell Baker, Sibling (deceased)
  • Freddie L. Kelley, Sibling (deceased)
  • Essie Williams, Sibling
  • Frank Kelley, Sibling
  • Earnest Kelley also leaves numerous other family members to cherish his loving memory.


27 February

A Celebration of Earnest's Life

11:00 am

Striffler-Hamby Mortuary

Edgewood Hall

4071 Macon Road
Columbus, Georgia 31907

The service will be live streamed through the Striffler-Hamby Mortuary at Parkhill Cemetery Facebook page.


  • Visitation for Family and Friends

    Friday, February 26, 2021


SFC (RET) Earnest Kelley

have a memory or condolence to add?

Pierre Boesch

February 27, 2021

Sergeant Kelley it was a pleasure to have met you and the story of Pearl Harbor was amassing to hear, as I mention your generation is the greatest generation and thank you for your service and R.I.P Sergeant Kelley

Nelson y Rosibel Villatoro

February 27, 2021

We will remember Mr Kelly as a person with an affable spirit, for his great sense of humor and humility, who opened to us not only the doors of his home but also of his family.
It was always nice to share coffee moments with him to listen to his wonderful stories,
Mr Kelly has always been a great example for our family, his effort, his work spirit, his honesty, gift of service, are part of the values that formed Mr Kelly as the great man that he was.
We thank God for the life of Mr. Kelly and for putting him in our path.
Without a doubt, he leaves a great void for his family.
And for the Villatoro family he has left a beautiful mark on our hearts and beautiful moments that will always be remembered by our children.
With love, Nelson, Rosibel, Pablo, Andrea y Sophia

Ernest Rapalo

February 25, 2021

To my Grandpa Earnest Kelley ,
We are grieving the loss of you, the most amazing man. A devoted husband, a deeply loved and respected father, and an adored grandfather. But thankfully, this isn’t the final goodbye. We share the same faith that this isn’t the end. I know will see you again someday. We will wrap Grandma in all the love and comfort that you provided for her in the 49 years you were married. Don’t have to much fun with out us in heaven !

Till we meet again grandpa , love you.

Michael Burnham

February 25, 2021

Mr Kelley was such a dear an wonderful friend. We had such great talks. He shared the stories of his service to our country. Truly an eyewitness to so much history, and he was a part of it. He could tell good stories. Was concerned about others. When I was. under the weather, he would walk up the street to talk with me, cheer me up. Thank God for him and his life.
He had a good sense of humor, was smart, loved our dogs. I have been Blessed and honored to know him and be his friend. He and his stories will not be forgotten.
I miss him every day, can still hear his voice and laugh

Rhonda Morman

February 24, 2021

Forever grateful for the time we shared and the bond we created. Love you granddad. ❤❤❤

Kim, Tuan, Kristina, and Maximus Clay

February 24, 2021

Mr. Kelley will be missed in our hearts. We are going to miss his smile, his laugh, and his jokes. We will miss seeing him working in the garden, jogging up to the mailbox, and simply talking on the patio. Kimmy will miss your phone call you do to just check on us and you always have such an unique laugh. So now enjoy your time with Jesus and we will reunite with you again one day. Don't forget to tell Jesus I said hello. We love 💘 ❤ you very much and thank you for being a part of our family.

Yoselin Ortiz

February 24, 2021

As the saying goes, “Gone, but not forgotten.” You will always remain in our hearts and memories. You were such an inspiration to everyone. You taught us all that age ain’t nothing but a number. The word “No”, wasn’t an option for you and your determination led to your success. Such a hard-working man, staying active until your last breath. The kindness you had towards others was immeasurable! I will cherish all the great advise you gave me. Love isn’t always perfect, but you and Aunt Eva were close to it. You overcame ever obstacle life through at you and faced head on. Thank you for loving her and all of us!