Nelsen Williamsburg

3785 Strawberry Plains Rd., Williamsburg, VA


R. Catherine Kelley

February 25, 1955January 12, 2020
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At 9:15 A.M. on 12 January 2020 a very bright light went out as Catherine Kelley of Toano, Virginia passed away at her home, quietly in her sleep.

Catherine was born 25 February 1955 to Ruth Z. Sudduth and Gordon F. Sudduth in Alexandria, Virginia. Unfortunately their marriage would not last and Catherine and her mother moved to Ruth’s home town of Clarksburg, West Virginia. Surrounded by a large and loving family, Catherine grew to become the strong and caring women we have all come to know and love.

Catherine graduated from Washington Irving High School in 1972 in only three years and immediately enrolled at the University of West Virginia to study medicine. She left school after only two years to help her mother care for her Grandpa Reger, a trait she would demonstrate throughout her life. At his passing, Catherine new she wanted to continue her pursuit of a life in medicine. She first tried to join the Air Force, but was told she was too short. Much to their loss and a huge gain to all of us, she walked across the hall to the Navy recruiter and was promptly accepted.

Catherine began her 26 year Naval career in November 1975 where all ladies did at that time, Recruit Training Center, Orlando, Florida. She next attended Hospital Corps “A” School at Great, Illinois. While in school, she was joined by her hometown boy friend and they were married. After graduation, she was assigned to the Naval Hospital Portsmouth, Virginia where she would discover her true calling, X-Ray Technician, but before she begin training she discovered she was pregnant with her son Christopher who was born 29 April 1978. She applied for Advanced X-Ray Technician training and graduated top in her class. While attending school, her marriage ended. After graduation, she transferred to the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda Maryland where her life would be turned upside down.

While stationed at Bethesda, she successfully earned the difficult American Registry of Radiologic Technologists certification in January 1979 which she would maintain for the next 40 years, and was awarded her A/S degree from George Washington University in May 1981.

In December of 1980, a young Hospital Corpsman, Danny Kelley, saw her from the back in a passage way. He took note of her long blond hair hanging down her pea coat and knew he had to meet her. He managed to get a look at her face as she boarded an elevator, but it would not be until February 1981 that he would find her. That month he brought a patient, Colonel Schnabel, to Radiology for post-op x-rays. To Danny’s lasting joy, Catherine was the tech assigned to do the study. Danny spent the whole time trying to get a date and Catherine repeatedly turned him down. At one point the Colonel told her to just say yes so he could go back to his room. Catherine agreed to have lunch with him the next day and at that lunch Danny informed her that they were going to get married. She said that would never happen and on 19 September 1981 they began their 38 year marriage. They welcomed their daughter Danielle Catherine Kelley on 9 April 1982. Catherine and Danny would spend the rest of their careers and lives traveling the country and the world.

Catherine retired from the US Navy 31 January 2002. During her career she earned many awards and was a member of numerous clubs and associations, but her true claim to fame where the many sailors that she positively affected. She was a loyal friend, superior mentor and shipmate to all she came in contact with.

After Catherine retired she went to work for Don Morrison & Associates as a Radiologic Technologist. In 2007 she earned her B/S in Radiologic Sciences from Florida Hospital College.

Of all the clubs and associations Catherine was a part of, her favorites where the Presbyterian Women (PW), her bible study class Stepping Stones, serving as a Board member for the Presbyterian Children’s Home of the Highlands, and as a Service Officer for the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 34 Williamsburg. She first became an active member of PW at Simonsdale Presbyterian Church, Portsmouth where she served in numerous leadership roles and went on to hold leadership positions with the Presbytery Women in the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia.

Catherine leaves behind a legacy of love and caring. She always put others first and as in keeping with Hospital Corps motto, Charlie Golf One, ”Standing by Ready to Assist”; she was always there to lend a helping hand. Catherine epitomized the phrase found at the end of all awards, “Her exemplary performance, noteworthy accomplishments, perseverance and total dedication to family and friends reflected great credit upon herself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Navy.” Catherine truly had a life well lived.

Catherine is survived by her husband, Danny Kelley; son, Christopher Lee Kelley and his wife Alyssa; daughter, Danielle Catherine Kelley; grandchildren, Graham Conner Kelley and Moseley Rose Kelley; cousins, Tammy and Albert Metzgar; uncle, Troy Napier; and aunts, Mary Jo Hitt and Cookie Palmer.

A visitation will be held on Friday, January 24 from 6-8 PM at Nelsen Funeral Home, 3785 Strawberry Plains Rd., Williamsburg, VA 23188. A service will take place on Saturday, January 25 at Stone House Presbyterian Church, 9401 Fieldstone Pkwy, Toano, VA 23168 at 2 PM. Interment will take place on Friday, January 31 at 1 PM at National Cemetery, Grafton, West Virginia.

Memorial contributions may be made to Disabled American Veterans (DAV), P.O. Box 14301. Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301, Presbyterian Children’s Home of The Highlands, 425 Grayson Rd, Wytheville, VA 24382 or to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22478, Oklahoma City, OK 73123.


25 January


2:00 pm

Stone House Presbyterian Church

9401 Fieldstone Parkway
Toano, Virginia

31 January


1:00 pm

National Cemetery

Grafton, West Virginia


  • Visitation Friday, January 24, 2020


R. Catherine Kelley

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Jaylyn Eakle

January 24, 2020

Mamaw Catherine,
I miss you so much there wasn’t a time that I got to see you as much but you will forever and always be in our hearts. I look forward to walking in your footstep. If you got to know me you would be so proud of who I am and what I will become. I love you and miss you so much mamaw I hope you aren’t in pain anymore and I hope your walking and are happy. We all love you deeply!

Allan Hill

January 17, 2020

A lot of memories throughout many years of memories associated with with Navy medicine and personal times. Miss ya

Annette Bibeau

January 17, 2020

Catherine she is the most beautiful woman and so caring and that long blonde hair. I asked her how did she get it all up in that tiny Navy Cap,she replied I fold it and laughed. I would see Danny and Catherine whenever I could. I'll never forget the time I took her on my waverunner in NC it was a blast and she loved it. I took Catherine and Danny to George W. Bush's inaugural speech in Washington DC .
Catherine & Danny came to see me while I was being treated for Overian Cancer and Chemo it meant the world to me that they came up to my home in Connecticut . Catherine would talk for hours comforting my husband during my treatments.
January 6th Danny told me that Catherine was going to die I dropped everything and we drove thru a snow storm to get to Catherine to see her I had to tell her that I loved her very much I am so glad that my husband drove 12 hours straight thru to make it on time. God bless . Your loving cousin Annette & John

Peggy Lowe

January 17, 2020

Our deepest sympathies for your loss. We feel the loss as Women who were part of PEVAPW for years. Her smile radiated warmth and love. May the memories and love shared sustain you in the days to come. May God's mercy and grace surround you and give you comfort. She's Home with our Lord and Savior and we'll all be together again. Love and prayers, Bethany Presbyterian Church

Pat Ward

January 16, 2020

We had a long and memorable friendship, know that you will remain in my heart forever. Prayers for Comfort and Peace to Dan and your children. The heavens received a Golden Angel January 12, 2020 and we will miss you dearly!
Farewell my friend until we meet again.
Pat Ward