STATESBORO, Ga. - Mrs. Emma Thompson Kelly, pianist, singer and "Lady of 6,000 Songs," died Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2001, at her residence. Mrs. Kelly was 82.
The funeral will be at 3 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church with Dr. H. William Perry officiating.
Mrs. Kelly, a native of Bulloch County, was a pianist and singer. She played a vast repertoire of American popular standards five nights a week until a month ago. She was dubbed "Lady of 6,000 Songs" by Johnny Mercer for her encyclopedic knowledge of popular music. Author John Berendt devoted a chapter to her in his 1994 book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Mrs. Kelly had independently recorded three albums, the last of which will be released posthumously. She was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1998 and was awarded an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Georgia Southern University. She was a lifelong member of First Baptist Church.
Survivors include four sons, George Ross Kelly Jr., Sterling, Mass., William Frederick Kelly, Statesboro, Michael David Kelly, Jacksonville, Fla., and Peter Franklin Kelly, Charlotte, N.C.; six daughters, Kitty Kelly Walters, Florence, S.C., Phoebe Kelly Collins and Emaline Kelly Perdoni, both of Sherborn, Mass., Jackie Kelly Hinz, Jonesboro, Paula Kelly Rogers, Eastman, and Patricia Kelly Alley, Statesboro; a brother, Paul Tarver Cave Williams, Atlantic Beach, Fla.; three sisters, Elizabeth T Johns, Lakeland, Fla., Mary T. Ragsdale, Glenville, and Mary T. Parker, Calhoun Falls; and 28 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Honorary pallbearers will be members of Statesboro Kiwanis Club, Statesboro Rotary Club, Downtown Rotary Club and Statesboro Lions Club.
Memorials may be made to: First Baptist Church, 108 N. Main St., Statesboro, GA 30458; or George and Emma Kelly Music Scholarship Fund; or Georgia Southern University Foundation, P.O. Box 8053, Statesboro, GA 30460-8053.
The family will receive friends from 5 to 8 p.m. today at Hodges-Turner-Anderson Funeral Home and from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday for a musical celebration at Forest Heights Country Club.
The Augusta Chronicle Jan. 18, 2001
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