Update: Later Wednesday night, Laurens Mayor Nathan Senn announced flags would be flown at half-staff in honor of Councilman Kelly. “In recognition of the loss of a sitting City Councilor, Johnny Kelly, and in thanksgiving for his life and service, it is appropriate that the City should honor and show its great affection for him,” Senn said. “Accordingly, I am directing that flags in the City of Laurens should be flown at half-staff until Monday, April 20, 2020.”
Laurens, South Carolina – Laurens City Mayor Nathan Senn announced Wednesday evening that City Councilman Johnny Kelly passed away from natural causes at his home Wednesday afternoon.
“Councilor Kelly represented Ward 3 in the City of Laurens for just over a year, having been elected in March 2019. Though his tenure on City Council was relatively short, he had become a respected friend and colleague to Mayor Senn and his fellow Council members.
“I appreciated Councilor Kelly because of his genuine kindness and natural curiosity,” said Mayor Senn, reflecting on his friendship and working relationship with Kelly. “Whenever we were faced with a problem, I could rely on him to do his best to find out all that he could about an issue rather than jump to conclusions. He was thoughtful and wanted to do the best job he possibly could for the City. He came into office with a laundry-list of items that needed to be addressed, and I appreciated the fact that he genuinely wanted to work together to fix things. He saw the potential of our City, and he had a common-sense approach to doing what needs to be done to achieve that potential. And, he did all this with a smile. You just couldn’t help but love the man. And I did. I know we all did.”
Other members of City Council have expressed their heartfelt condolences to his beloved wife, Linda Kelly, and the rest of his family, and each offered their thoughts upon learning of his death:
“He was a gentleman. He was a kindhearted person. He was passionate for his City. He respected everyone.” – Councilor Marian Miller
“He was a peaceful man. He was a gentle spirit and was eager to learn. He was happy about his position – and that he was able to help out with getting those things done that he wanted to accomplish in his district.” – Councilor Alicia Sullivan
“I was just getting to know him, but he was a very kind man. I am just shocked.” – Councilor Sara Latimore
“He had shown a lot of interest in learning how to improve the City and he was catching on. He was taking part in discussions and making his voice heard for his district. In the short time he’d been on council, he had already shown he was going to work hard for the City.” – Councilor Johnnie Bolt
Councilor Kelly wrote a letter to the editor when he first announced his candidacy for City Council which began with the words, “I am all in until the end.” His own words may be the best to describe his life and service to our City.