Kelly Punch, 44, of Newton, passed away Monday, Sept. 6, 2021.
He was born in Mecklenburg County, the son of Dennis and Patricia Patton Punch.
Kelly was a graduate of Newton-Conover High School, Class of 1995, where he lettered in baseball and football. Growing up with a passion for racing, "Punchy" pursued a career in motorsports. Whether it was late models, NASCAR, Rolex sports cars, or ARCA, Kelly worked for and cherished friendships with some of the biggest stars in the sport. He touched many souls along his journey by mentoring the next generation of tire specialists at the racetrack, encouraging his peers, and influencing many young people to follow their dreams and pursue their passions. His infectious smile, big heart, and one of a kind personality made him a unique soul that had an impact on everyone he met. Kelly truly loved spending time with his friends and his "racing family." His friends often commented, "There were no strangers to Kelly, only friends that he hasn't met yet."
He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Loy and Betty Jo Punch; maternal grandparents, Hugh and Myrtle Patton; and aunt, Phyllis Setzer.
In addition to his parents, those left to cherish his memory are his brother, Scott Punch and wife, Tylee; niece, Katlyn Punch; nephew, Hunter Punch; and uncles, Dr. Jerry Punch and family, Junior Setzer and family, and Michael Patton and family.
A receiving of friends will be held Tuesday, Sept. 14, from 6 to 6:45 p.m., at Willis-Reynolds Funeral Home. A celebration of life service will follow at Willis-Reynolds Chapel at 7 p.m., with Pastor Kyle Patton officiating.
In lieu of flowers, the family has established the Kelly Punch Memorial Scholarship, which will be presented annually to a deserving young person to pursue a career in motorsports through one of several motorsports training programs. The family respectfully requests that memorials and contributions to this scholarship fund may be sent to Kelly Punch Memorial Scholarship, P.O. Box 1361, Newton, NC 28658.
Willis-Reynolds Funeral Homewww.willisreynoldsfh.com
Published by Hickory Daily Record on Sep. 12, 2021.