William Kent Kelsey

August 17, 1946January 17, 2021

William Kent Kelsey, age 74, passed away on January 17, 2021. Kent (aka Hook ‘em) was born in Harriman, TN on August 17, 1946 to the late Beryl and Josephine Kelsey. Because of his Father’s job, he moved around a lot and the family settled in Dillon, SC where he graduated from Dillon High School.

Much of his youth was spent in the woods hunting and fishing. His Dad would give him three shotgun shells and tell him to come back with ‘two somethings’. After high school he went to Montreat-Anderson for college. Kent was smart, but not studious, and after one semester flunked out.

He moved back to Dillon, SC and started a band, The Original Past Blue Rhythms. Kent was lead singer and guitarist, with gigs in Cherry Grove and Myrtle Beach. Thinking he might be drafted in the Vietnam war, Kent joined the National Guard for a two year hitch. Being in the National Guard really messed up his weekends so he joined the Army. He went to Officer Candidate School and was sent to TUY HOA, Vietnam in 1968 as a First Lieutenant. His first daughter Lisa was born while he was in Vietnam in 1969. With only 23 days left on his tour, he was hit with a rocket propelled grenade and AIR EVAC to Tokyo for recovery.

After returning from Vietnam, he graduated from UNC-CH on the GI bill. He was a lifelong Tarheel fan, and rarely missed an ACC basketball tournament. He worked for the state of NC at Disability Determination Services as a Supervisor and Social Security Hearing Officer. His second daughter Tonya was born in 1974.

Kent had a lot of interests and hobbies. He loved to ride his BMW motorcycle on trips with his buddies across the country, both to California and then to Alaska. He was an avid cyclist, and twice a year would ride his bicycle to Nags Head, NC. In 1992 he married Vicky Wilson of Raleigh.

After retirement from the state, he was a hunting and fishing guide at Cedar Island, NC where he and Vicky bought an island cottage. Deciding he did not have the patience for guiding, he went into full retirement. Kent and Vicky made lots of friends at Cedar Island, and were no longer considered ding batters by the locals. He enjoyed his boys weekends at his cottage, where there was plenty of eating, drinking, and Texas Hold’em poker games. He was an expert poker player, travelling to many poker tournaments.

Other interests included reading, feeding the birds, entertaining friends and family, and cooking. His annual Christmas Eve party was legendary. Kent was known for his funny jokes and long winded but entertaining stories, which he very much relished repeating many times over. Kent had a bitingly sarcastic wit, and often told you the truth even if it was something you did not want to hear. Kent was always happy, with a great disposition who never met a stranger.

He is survived by his brother, Joe B Kelsey, and his sister Janet Boyette, and husband Rod. Also surviving are his wife Vicky, his daughters Lisa Montague and husband James and Tonya Chapman and partner Mark Ritter. Grandchildren Collin, Taylor, Dylan, and Ruffin. His nieces and nephews were always special to him, and they loved their Uncle Kent. He will be missed by his dogs Sadie and Jameson.

In lieu of flowers, donations to a charity of your choice are appreciated. His two favorite charities are Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Amvets Dept of N.C. Service Foundation.

A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

Arrangements by Brown-Wynne, 300 Saint Mary's Street, Raleigh.


  • A service is being planned for a future date


William Kent Kelsey

have a memory or condolence to add?

Kay Middleton

January 21, 2021

Oh I am so sorry to hear that Kent has passed on from this earth. Kent was a very special person and an inspiration to me. We both worked at DDS where he was a disability hearing officer. In 1999 I sat in on a hearing Kent was conducting. I knew then without a doubt that I wanted to be a hearing officer and pursued it. Not long afterwards I was working in the Disability Hearing Unit with Kent. Changed my life. After he retired I think I saw him only once but always will have fond memories of him. Reading this obit I found out things I never knew. What a remarkable person! Vicky, I send you my sympathy and blessings.

B.P. Gordon

January 21, 2021

I first met Kent when he moved to Dillon. Kent was 13 and little did I know he would become my best friend for 61 years. We did all the usual crazy things that young people do. Such great stories and memories. We stayed in touch, talking with him last on Christmas eve. I will certainly miss him!!!!

Kirby Woodard

January 21, 2021

I was ony around Kent on occasion but always enjoyed his energy and positive vibe and he made all feel welcome. My thoughts are with his children and family.

Jack Nance

January 20, 2021

I will always remember our motorcycle trips to the west coast and back and to Alaska. Kent always made the time off the bike fun with his endless stories—a true raconteur. I know no one who could tell a tale better.

Bobby Woodson

January 20, 2021

Always enjoyed the Christmas Eve parties. It was like a family reunion. Kent was such as nice person and he definitely lived a full life! Thoughts and prayers to his family.

Julia Fallon

January 20, 2021

A beautiful memory!

Randy Duff

January 20, 2021

When my Daughter died, I had given up on life and had absolutely no desire to live past that day. Once she passed Kent came into the back room where I was sharing my last moments with her before the hospital took her away. I had pretty much decided my life would end that day as well, however; Kent's words to me gave me more peace than I can describe here, I will never forget him for saving my life after I had just lost one. You will be missed my brother and THANK YOU for what you did for me.