EASLEY — Duriel Lee O'Kelley passed away in Easley, SC on July 22, three days after his 85th birthday.
He was born in Pisgah Forest, NC, the son of the late Donald Lee and Canty Bryson O'Kelley of Hendersonville, NC. His three younger sisters, Betty Israel, Jody Young and Sara O'Kelley are still living in the Ashville area.
He graduated from Candler High School in 1947. He studied electricity but joined the Navy and served at sea in the Korean War. He was eventually tapped for pilot training and served in the Mediterranean theatre flying submarine reconnaissance in the Navy P2V.
After his discharge, he was hired in 1957 by Delta Air Lines and served as Captain flying and training until 1970.
He married Beverly Ann Cronk and had two sons who survive him, John Howard of Tucker, Georgia and Brian Lee of Easley, SC. He is survived by four grandchildren… Will, Luke, Anna Rose and Peyton O'Kelley and one great grandchild, Joseph Beniah O'Kelley.
Based in Atlanta most of his flying career, he purchased approximately 1000 acres, once one of the largest cotton plantations in pre-civil war era Coweta County, near Blackjack, and Sharpsburg. Here "DL" raised his family and bred Morgan horses, going to Vermont to locate the purest blood lines. Fairmead Damian was his most successful horse; a national champion for many years.
DL continued to do business and own property in Coweta County until the late 1980s. He spent the later years of his life in Pensacola, Florida and Hendersonville, NC.
He was a jack of all trades, exhibiting do-it-yourself success in electricity, carpentry, farm management, animal husbandry, land investment and piloting. He was a modest golfer but avid Braves fan. He liked bourbon and water until diabetes required an immediate cessation and he had a dramatic encounter with Jesus Christ that allowed him to gain control.
He was interested and proud of his Western N. Carolina pioneering ancestry.
Graveside Services were held 3pm, Thursday, July 24, 2014 at Blue Ridge Gardens of Memory in Pisgah Forest, NC. The family received friends at 2pm at Moody-Connolly Funeral Home in Brevard, NC.
On line condolences may be left at www.moodyconnollyfuneralhome.com.
Moody-Connolly Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.