Cornelia ‘Connie’ Gourdin W. Kelly, 96, remembered for her twinkling eyes, she was driving by age 9

Cornelia “Connie” Gourdin W. Kelly

Cornelia “Connie” Gourdin W. Kelly

Our beloved mother, grandmother and gracious southern lady, Cornelia “Connie” Gourdin W. Kelly, of West Columbia, died suddenly on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, at the age of 96.

Born on May 4, 1919, in Kingstree, to John Frederick and Martha G. Wolff, she was one year younger than her brother, Keith G. Wolff. She was preceded in death by her parents; brother; husband, Joel T. Kelly; half-sister, Eugenia Wolff Walker; and half-brothers, Harold Wolff and Carl Wolff.

Connie (“Meme” to her family) is survived by her children, Joel Thomas Kelly and Joanne Kelly Baldwin and grandchildren, Kevin Michael Baldwin, Cornelia Kelly Baldwin, Joelle Tamsen Kelly and Tisa Marie Kelly.

A child of the depression, she lived with distant farming relatives in the country near Salters while her widowed mother worked in far-flung communities as a school teacher. Connie’s early education was in a proverbial one-room log cabin that housed grades K-12. By age 9 she was driving her mother around town; by age 11 she had her driver’s license and could recite her very low license number upon request.

After Kingstree High graduation, she majored in math at Erskine College and the University of South Carolina in Columbia. In 1942 she married Joel T. Kelly at St. Paul’s Church in Summerville. They lived in Charleston during WWII and worked at the Charleston Port of Embarkation.

After the war she moved with her growing family to Cayce/West Columbia, where she lived until her death. She stayed at home to raise her children, but then worked for years at Sears, back when it was still Sears, Roebuck and Company. She often visited her farmland in Williamsburg County and enjoyed seeing her relatives in the “low country” of South Carolina. She was a founding member of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Cayce and was particularly proud of her membership in the First Families of South Carolina.

She stayed active her whole life by keeping a garden and tending flowers, shrubs and two grapevines. Connie loved card games and she and her husband enjoyed many years of Canasta, Pinochle and Bridge with other friends. She enjoyed traveling with family and friends, especially her son’s mother-in-law, Peggy Midgett, to Hawaii, California, Myrtle Beach and the mountains. In recent years she insisted on dressing up and going out to eat at local Lizards Thicket restaurants every day and never missed her weekly hair appointments.

We will forever miss her good nature, twinkling eyes and happy smile! The family is forever grateful for the loving care that daughter Joanne gave to her and the wonderful care given to her by Dr. Vijaya Korrrapati, her nurse Kerri and staff at Lexington Oncology. Also Dr. Gil Rogers at Internal Medicine Associates and staff at DayBreak Adult Care Services.

Funeral services were held at Thompson Funeral Home on State Street in West Columbia with burial at Columbia’s Greenlawn Memorial Park.

Please leave online condolences for the family at Thompson Funeral Home.

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