Helen Kelley Sanders

October 20, 1921March 22, 2020

“The Devil don’t want me and Lord doesn’t have a place for me yet…” A saying by Helen Kelley Sanders. Sunday, March 22, 2020, at the age of 98, the Lord finally found a place for Helen, and it was with him.

Born in Seneca, Helen was the youngest of six children, and the favored child of the late Oscar Anderson Kelley and Hattie Sue Dixon Kelley. She told everyone that her father knew he would have a “jewel” so he built a new home before she was born.

As a young child, Helen suffered a serious illness which kept her inside where she would listen to the baseball games on the radio to report the scores to her father when he came in for lunch. Her sister, Inez, would read to her each day, which turned into a life-long love of reading and collecting books. No paperback books though, only hardbacks.

Helen was a graduate of Palmer Business School which led her to a 30 year career with JB White where she retired as Credit Manager. She was loved her church family and was a member of Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church for 58 years.

In 1942, Helen married Fred Jack Sanders. She stayed with her parents while Fred was stationed in Hawaii aboard the USS Pennsylvania (BB-38). He was a survivor of Pearl Harbor as well as a Purple Heart recipient. He retired as BMC following a 30 year career with the US Navy.

Helen was a true Proverbs 31 woman: “A wife of noble character worth far more than rubies. She speaks with wisdom and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed.”

“Yardwork is my therapy”, Helen would often say, as she spent most of her days outside. She was known for her “Get up and Go” and many times she would announce that her “Get up and Go, just Got up and Went.”

Surviving is her daughter and son-in-law, Valorie Onley-Davis and Dan Davis; daughter-in-law, Linda Sanders; grandchildren, Melanie Onley-Willett (Tod), Jonathan Onley, Brantley O. Ballard (Chad), Kathy Sanders Ulicky, Fred Jack Sanders III; grandson-in-law, Steven Pruitt; great-grandchildren Amanda Onley-Willet, Molly Elizabeth Pruitt, Sanders Pruitt, Jake Pruitt, Lauren Sanders; and two great-great-grandchildren, Jayce and Zoey. She was preceded in death by her son, Fred Jack Sanders, Jr.; granddaughter, Ashley Onley Pruitt; son-in-law, Donny Onley; brother, Glenn Kelley; sisters, Hazel Williams, Edith Kelley, Inez Kohn (her best friend and “sipping buddy”), and Kathlyn Owens (1936 Berlin Olympics High Jumper known as “Baby of the Olympics”).

The family extends a special thank you to Harbor Chase Assisted Living and the Presbyterian Home for their excellent love and care shown over the past year.

Due to the COVID-19 Virus, a Memorial Service will be held at a later date at Asbury Memorial UMC. A private graveside service will be held in Greenlawn Memorial Park on Monday at 1:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Asbury Memorial UMC, 1005 Asbury Drive, Columbia, SC 29209.


30 March

Private Graveside Service

1:00 pm

Greenlawn Memorial Park

845 Leesburg Road
Columbia, South Carolina


Helen Kelley Sanders

have a memory or condolence to add?

Angela Duffie

March 25, 2020

I will never forget Helen Sanders smile.What was even greater was her wonderful laugh! She will be missed at Asbury UMC. Praying for the family.
God bless you.
Angie Duffie

Martha Jones

March 23, 2020

My Grandson , Gage and I liked riding around in St. Marked Woods on my golf cart in nice weather. We always went by Miss Helen and visited with her. She would be on her bench under the trees with her cat close by. She and my Father in law and Mother in laws Sunday school at Asbury church together. I will always remember my visits with her. Such a sweet lady with many stories to tell. Sorry for your loss Martha Jones. Member of Asbury church.