Jessie Mae (Barnes) Kelley

January 16, 1922September 27, 2020
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Jessie Mae Barnes Kelley, entered into peaceful eternal rest on September 27, 2020. Jessie was born on January 16, 1922, to the union of Margaret Rosalia and James B. Barnes.

Jessie was a happy child and was always drawn to the pretty things around her. Jessie had a special gift for making others feel noticed and special. All who knew her can attest to the consistent and intentional way Jessie let others know that she cared about them and that they were important. Earlier in her life, it was not uncommon to receive a kind note, written with perfect penmanship, on a lovely piece of stationery. In her later years, a well-timed phone call was her social medium of choice. Time spent with Jessie on the phone became a run-down of the events of the day, a fashion lesson, a culinary lesson or a beautiful walk down memory lane. By the end of the call, you would certainly have covered “all the things”, but you would also hang up with a smile on your face.

Jessie accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior at an early age. She and her sisters, Ethel Lee and Annie Lee were all baptized early one Easter Sunday morning. She and her family were consistent and faithful members of Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Houston Texas, where her grandmother, Ellen Thompson was a Founding Member. It was in the church where Jessie’s love of music and her beautiful soprano voice developed. She and her sisters, Ethel and Annie formed a group known locally as The Barnes Sisters. They traveled around Houston and the surrounding areas, chauffeured by their older brother John, singing the gospel and spiritual hymns that were important and uplifting to the African American communities in the area.

Jessie married her first husband, the late Charles Suel Cain in 1940. Charles, known as “Trummie” because of his talent to play trumpet, had strong ties in the R&B and Jazz communities. His affiliations afforded Jessie and him the opportunity to meet and become friends with the musical greats of the time, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington, to name a few. On April 24, 1941, in Houston Texas, Marva Ann Cain would be born to the union of Jessie Mae Barnes and Charles Suel Cain. Marva was Jessie’s only child. The special bond between mother and daughter was evident and Jessie always had Marva at the center of her attention. The marriage between Jessie and Charles ended shortly after Marva’s birth.

For a season, Jessie and Marva lived in Berkley, California. It was during this time that Jessie began attending a special hostess and party planning course at UC Berkley. As Jessie recalled, the course was led by “two fabulous women from Paris, France.” It was during this time that Jessie’s love of party planning and entertaining would emerge and flourish. The “Berkley course” (as Jessie referred to it) was the foundation and vision for what would later become Jessie’s Wedding & Party Planning Service.

In June 1954, Jessie married the love of her life, Frederick Kelley. Jessie and “Fred” had a beautiful bond. Together, they launched Jessie’s dream of being a wedding planner and caterer. Their business was a thriving success delivering happiness and joy to people celebrating the most important days of their lives. During their 23 years together, they celebrated the marriage of her daughter Marva and the joy of becoming loving and devoted grandparents. Jessie and Frederick Kelley enjoyed a long happy marriage until Frederick passed away.

In the mid-80’s, Jessie formally retired her business and moved to Kingwood, Texas to live with her daughter Marva’s family. It was during this time that Jessie found her next great adventure: taking care of her two grandchildren, Mark and Nicole, volunteering as a teacher’s aide at the local elementary school and being a dedicated member of Kingwood First Baptist Church. Jessie continued to share her gifts of decorating, cooking and building up others in everything that she participated. Referred to by members of the church as “Mother Jessie”, every Sunday you could count on seeing her in the center pew section, second row, corner seat, bible in hand, dressed to the “nines”, replete with a fantastic hat. As new career opportunities moved the family to different Texas cities, Jessie enjoyed each adventure. While in Colleyville, Texas, she faithfully served at First Baptist Euless, and membership in the Colleyville Women’s Club. When the family moved to San Antonio, Texas, Jessie continued her faithful service as a member of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

In her last years as a resident of the Lennwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Jessie continued to generously give of her time/talents and made sure she was fashionably dressed, with face fully made. Her greatest joy was to ensure that her fellow residents had an experience where “all things were done with grace and perfection”. Jessie was instrumental in working with local ministers to establish the Sunday Morning Worship Hour, “producing” an Annual Christmas Concert hosted by her family and of course the annual celebration of her birthday!

Known by many endearments: Jessie Mae, Mom, “Gram”, Aunt Jessie, “Mother Jessie”, “Granny”, has been a blessing to all who knew her. Her love of people always reflected Christ’s love. Her joy for bringing people together and making others feel special was a gift from which we all benefited.

Jessie was the longest living member of her family’s generation. She was preceded in death by her parents, Margaret and James B. Barnes, her siblings, John Jordan, Lela Jordan Robinson, Ethel Lee Johnson and Annie Harris Moten Jenkins.

Jessie is survived by her daughter, Marva Cain (James O. Benton); grandson, Mark S. Benton (Shelley), granddaughter, Jimmi Nicole Benton; great-grandchildren, Joshua Stephen, Parker Weston and Jessica Cain; Nieces and Nephews, Della Margaret Robinson, Rosaylia and her husband, Tyree Wilson, Margaret Materre and family, Theodore Harris and family; The McNary Family, Julia Malveaux and family and many relatives and faithful friends. Special thanks to Jessie’s dedicated care givers at the Lennwood Center and special friends, Sue Daniel, Jean Jackson, and Mr. Kenneth Martin, for their constant dedication and loving support to Jessie over the years of her residence at the Lennwood.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Kelley family.


  • Visitation

    Wednesday, October 7, 2020

  • Funeral Service

    Friday, October 9, 2020

  • Graveside Service

    Friday, October 9, 2020


Jessie Mae (Barnes) Kelley

have a memory or condolence to add?

Jessica Benton

October 15, 2020

My grandfather and I were about to take a trip to Galveston when I was about 8 . Before leaving I went to my granny’s room to say goodbye. She was crying because she said she was going to miss me and I said something along the lines of “I love you and it’s okay because you’re going to be right with me in my heart always” Now I miss her but it’s okay because she will always be with me in my heart.
When I look in the mirror, I see my great granny. I see her strength, I see her compassion for others and her class. I see her in my other family members as well such as my grandparents, my Uncle and his family, Etc.
She did not leave this world without teaching, inspiring, or influencing you in one way or another. So when you’re grieving, feeling sad, look in the mirror. Reflect on how she impacted your life and the memories that you shared with her.
And like my granny use to say, “when those bad thoughts are in your head, it’s the devil and just yell at him. “Get behind me Satan !!”” .

Marva Benton

October 14, 2020

You will surely be missed. We appreciate all of the things you did and taught us through the years. Love you.
Great granddaughter, Jessica and daughter, Marva

Debbie Austin

October 11, 2020

The tide recedes but leaves behind
bright seashells on the sand.
The sun goes down, but gentle
warmth still lingers on the land.
The music stops, and yet it echoes
on in sweet refrains…..
For every joy that passes,
something beautiful remains.
…. Anonymous

I will forever cherish the memories of our friendship, of feeling special and appreciated, She always polished my ego with words of faith and praise. Her conversations were often of support or concern for other residents at The Lennwood. In order to attend Resident Council meetings I had to be invited. She told me I has a "Permanent invitation" from her, and to come to every meeting. I did and was able to keep abreast of resident input on a first hand basis. On other occasions our conversations were of our religious faith, family, decorating tips, recipes, fashion, etiquette or cooking.

I was amazed at the stories of her traveling to California to study under the French ladies. I thought how courageous that was at that period of time in America, for a young Negro woman.

She loved to talk about her family, especially Jessica her granddaughter. And she would ask about my daughter whose middle name is Jessica. Both young ladies are interested in the same field of study. We frequently compared notes and stories.

I can't imagine returning to the Lennwood NF and not seeing her there always dressed stylishly, with a hat on of course, poised, polite, and so wonderfully wonderful.

My eyes and my heart can't stop crying. When she woke up in HEAVEN there was no more pain, sorrow, worries or cares.
Earthly troubles were cast away.

Prayers of comfort, love and peace to Marva and the family.

A Dear Friend,
Debbie Austin
Long Term Care Ombudsman
Senior Source Dallas

Brandy Gardner

October 9, 2020

Marva , it’s been years since we have visited but I can never forget Mrs Jessie , you or your family . Your mother was the kindest, warmest giver of all encompassing love when we met at KFBC. I received that same love and acceptance from you as well. I will always remember Sunday dinner and other gatherings in your home. But know The beautiful memories and beloved relationship you have with your mother will give you insurmountable strength as you navigate you way through the coming days. Your mother’s love will bless and encourage to and your family. I will frequently send prayers up for you and your family that God continues to be with and cover you, in Jesus name.💟✝️💜832-651-4483

Cheryl Cash

October 8, 2020

Dear Marva, Jim & family,

Bill and I extend our prayers for your comfort during this time of mourning. You days will be long on this earth for you truly honored your mother. May your beautiful memories bring you peace and comfort.

Bill and Cheryl Cash

Julia Malveaux

October 6, 2020

Being Jessie's cousin through my mother, Lettie Malveaux, was an honor. Both ladies were truly grande dames who set high standards for themselves, their families, and those they influenced. They exuded confidence, poise and elegance yet also possessed a quiet strength. It was such a blessing that Marva and Jim along with Jessie and the rest of their family relocated from Houston to Dallas around the time I made the same move. We were able to remain close and continue our family holiday traditions. When my mother passed, Jessie was there to provide comfort, support and reassurance. And through the years, she continued to encourage and advise me. I will miss her generous wisdom, her glamorous presence, and her warm and loving embrace. Yet I will always treasure the precious memories we made and how she stepped in for her cousin Lettie to ensure that my brother Steven and I would be okay. Rest in peace dear Jessie. The heavenly gates welcome your beautiful soul!

Eleanor Lee

October 4, 2020

I am saddened by the passing of such a lovely and precious Pearl! I’ve known her practically all of my life and she was one of my Mother’s dearest friends. Over 40 years ago, she was “key” in one of the most important days in my life - my Wedding - as my very elegant Wedding Coordinator. Her exquisite detailing for our Wedding is still a memory I will just never forget. She was truly blessed with longevity and now rests in the bosom of our Savior. My love and deepest sympathy are extended to her loving daughter, Marva and to all of her family. I am keeping you in my prayers.
Eleanor Brackins Lee

Sandra Davis

October 4, 2020

Mother Kelly will be greatly missed I always looked at her as my assistant at the Lennwood nursing home she help me with so many things I don’t know what I would’ve done without her all the time that I was there. I love her and her family I wish you all the best she will greatly be missed she was one of the best Activity Director Assistant anybody could ever have. love always Sandra Davis

Eunice Jeanette Cooks

October 4, 2020

Aunt Jessie came into my life around 1969 when my mother set up a meeting with her for my wedding, some 51 year's ago. I have to say it was beautiful and the cake was delicious! Later on in my marriage Aunt Jessie was instrumental in organizing a concert at her church in Kingwood. My accompanist, family and I were there and it was well received. Aunt Jessie tried to organize a concert at the Lennwood Nursing Home, but my accompanist (Geraldine Hinton Green) became ill and passed away several months later! When I did get a chance to go to Grand Prairie, it was a joy to see her and the family. My mother and Aunt Jessie were alike in so many ways. They loved there children, church, friends and would always help when ever they could. Looking the part of a lady was a trait that I will remember about Aunt Jessie. When my mother passed away on January 16, 2008, Aunt Jessie was with me on the phone, at the hospital and gave me the strength to pull through!! I'll always love her and I am grateful for her guidance!! Thank you Aunt Jessie and rest in peace!

Maudene McNary

October 4, 2020

October 4, 2020.
My husband, Oscar, and I are grateful to have experienced Mother Jessie’s
Friendship, Wisdom, and Spirituality.
Love To Our Extended Family
Jim, Marva, and Children.
Maudene & Oscar McNary


You are invited to experience a life well-lived...


Jessie Mae - Dressed in fur cap and cape; ready for worship!


Jessie Mae - Always a smile and a kind word to greet you!


Jessie Mae in Party Dress - ready to entertain!


Jessie Mae - Formal Portrait 1986


Jessie Mae - Formal Portrait 2001


Granny always looked through the person to see their character.


Granny with Mark and Shelley on her 95th birthday!

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