OBITUARY

George Kelly Harwell

February 21, 1949July 27, 2020

On July 27, 2020, George Kelly Harwell died at his home in Birmingham, Alabama, approximately 42 months after suffering strokes following knee replacement surgery and enduring subsequent health problems. Kelly was born on February 21, 1949 at UVA Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia, and was the son of Edward E. and Ruth Y. Harwell of Orange, Virginia.

Kelly grew up in Orange and attended Grymes Memorial School, Woodberry Forest School, and Duke University. He excelled academically at all three schools. During school breaks, he worked for Harwell Construction Company, Inc. At both Woodberry and Duke, he played lacrosse.

With his degree in civil engineering from Duke, Kelly embarked on a career in engineering that took him all over the world. In Egypt, he took over the supervision of a large dam under construction and corrected the errors of Soviet engineers. Immediately following the 9/11/2001 terror attacks, he went to New York for approximately a year and supervised renovation of damaged buildings. Over the years, other engineers expressed laudatory comments about his expertise, advice, and willingness to assist others.

In his spare time, Kelly enjoyed kayaking on rivers in Alabama and Tennessee as well as attending races at Talladega. He worked hard and played hard.

Kelly is survived by his loving companion, Melanie Lackowski (Chelsea, Alabama); his brother, Edward Eugene Harwell, Jr, (Warrenton, Virginia); his former wife, Fran Freeman Harwell; his brother-in-law, Bill Heldreth; and nephews and nieces, John, David, Elizabeth, and Kate Heldreth. Kelly was predeceased by his parents and his sister, Ruth Ann Harwell Heldreth.

Many thanks go out to Kelly's caregiver Sandra Hutchins, with whom he felt a special bond.

Family and friends are invited to A Memorial Gathering for Kelly Harwell from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, August 1, 2020 at Ridout's Southern Heritage Funeral Home in Pelham, AL.

Services

  • A Memorial Gathering for Kelly Harwell

    Saturday, August 1, 2020

Memories

George Kelly Harwell

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Fran Harwell

August 3, 2020

We met at 16 when he was at Woodberry Forest and I was at Chatham Hall, both graduated Duke, and both worked at Law Engineering at the same time for 10 years, had many interesting adventures and good years together. My parents considered him as a son they never had and he was clearly their favorite son-in-law. Sadly, our marriage ended ended, well past the 25 year mark, but I am grateful he found such a loving and devoted companion as Melanie, especially during those last difficult few years.

GREG & SANDRA HANSEN / BAILY

August 1, 2020

Great guy and next door neighbor for many years. Always a good sport when the girls would decorate his house for Christmas parties. Easy going and always a smile and hello , He even loaned us the “grey ghost” MB wagon when our car was in the shop. We were very fortunate have Kelly as a neighbor and friend.
Sandra & Greg

Sherry Radek

July 31, 2020

All I can say is that Harwell was the kindest man I've ever met. He was the brother I never had and my sister, Melanie, is truly blessed to have had him in her life.
I will miss you Harwell and I will always love you for being so so good to my sister.

Nadia Lachowski

July 31, 2020

My heart is truly broken but will remain full of love for Harwell (as we Northerns called him) forever.
He was like a son to me. He would call me almost every day and told me stories of the adventures that filled his life.
He was so kind-hearted that he took the time to call this 88 year lady (me) just to see how I was doing.
We laughed at so many things there are too many to mention.
I am so grateful that my daughter, Melanie, had him in her life.
He loved her more than I can express.
I will always love you Harwell and will keep you in my heart...always.

Scott Thompson

July 31, 2020

On the water we called him the "The General" because of his unique army style paddling helmet. As a founding member of the the Sit-on-Top Boys, he will be missed.

Julie Williams

July 30, 2020

Kelly was our neighbor for many years. Way back in 1993, I was pregnant, and the big blizzard pounded Birmingham. Our electricity went out, but Kelly's electricity, two doors down, was still on. He showed up at our door, offering to string together a series of extension cords from his house to ours to give us a little electricity -- we ran alternately the refrigerator and a heater and even watched a movie on TV before his electricity went down, too. Ah, but it was such a blessing, even if his electricity did go out! Also, Kelly brought our two boys each a hat from 9/11. That was very touching and also very historic, as for both, 9/11 was their first news memory. Many condolences to his family.

Fares Abdo

July 30, 2020

I will always be grateful for the good times we had together working, exercising, drinking… Many of us engineers and scientists who were fortunate enough to work with Kelly attest to his unquestionable ethical conduct, depth of knowledge, and the gift of mentoring others like no one else could. My friend and best engineering mentor, I will miss you. Rest in peace.

Bob Barnett

July 30, 2020

Kelly and I worked together since the start of our careers as engineers. He was my go to guy for problems. More importantly he was just a fun person. Always smiling with a unique chuckle. I will miss him being in job meetings. He was one of a kind, I am glad we had time together here.

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