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Elsie Maxine Kelley

December 3, 1923 ~ July 5, 2021 (age 97)


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Mrs. Elsie Maxine Kelley (nee Gates), a longtime Oxnard/Port Hueneme resident, passed away
on July 5, 2021.

Mrs. Kelley was born on December 3, 1923, in Key West, Florida to the union of Muriel (Sawyer) and Charles Gates. She was the eldest of one sister and two half-brothers. She was baptized at an early age at Bethel AM.E. Church in Key West. She was a dedicated member of the choir and usher board. While singing in the church choir, Elsie caught the eye of a dashing U.S. Navy Soldier, James P. Kelley, Sr., whom she later married on July 14, 1943. To their union three children were born, James Stanford Kelley, Jr. (Shirley), Diana Marie Kelley-Morris, and Steve Kevin Kelley, Sr.

After being stationed at several military installations, the Kelley family was assigned to the Port Hueneme Naval Base and made Oxnard their home. Elsie joined Bethel A.M.E. Church, Oxnard in 1949 and was an active member until her death. She was involved in many church auxiliaries including the Cathedral Choir, Sarah Allen Missionary Society, Laymen’s Organization, Women’s Ministry, Sunday School, Young Peoples Department, Steward’s Board, Ways and Means Committee, Acolytes, and many more. Elsie used her gift of cooking, sewing, crafting, and decorating for fundraisers, church events and to help those in need. She loved children and always shared words of encouragement and praise with young people.

Elsie was a founding member of the 20th Century Onyx club. She was a proud member of this organization and volunteered thousands of hours in projects to raise scholarship funds for black youth in Ventura County. Elsie loved learning. After retiring from St. John’s Hospital, she enrolled in Oxnard High School’s Adult Education Program where she completed the necessary credits to earn her diploma. She remained an active student at Oxnard Adult Education taking quilting, sewing, floral arrangement, and knitting classes. Elsie remained an active crafter until
her death, and even took a proactive role to keep others safe during the COVID-19 pandemic by making masks.

Elsie Maxine Kelley was a caring, hardworking, generous woman with a strong faith in God. Elsie showed love in her own special way through actions, words, and verbal coaching…she believed in completing tasks with perfection! She was also very witty and had a unique sense of humor that she loved to share with her friends and family. Elsie was preceded in death by her beloved husband, James P. Kelley, Sr., whom she affectionately called “Daddy,” her parents Muriel and Charles, and sister Sylvia. She leaves behind her bereft children (James, Jr., Diana, and Steve); Grandchildren Brandon Lamont Kelley, Sr., Kevin Lamont Kelley, Sr., Stephanie Renee Kelley, Bautista Tina Herndon, Artis Deon Lambert, Cassondra Denise Powell- Taylor, Karlette Fabrae Lambert, Terrence Duane Kelley, Steve Kelley, Jr, and Jarod Kelley; Great-grandchildren Christopher Kelley, Michael Marshall-Lambert, Brandon Kelley, Jr., Kevin Kelley, Jr., Lataisha Lambert, Autumn Herndon, Shane Kelley, Terrail Lambert, Taylor Herndon, Tianna Scott, DeJanee Lambert, Alaysia Clark-Kelley, Kenneth Powell, II, Kianna Kelley-Bowen, Kevin Powell, Kory Kelley, Kelley Twins, Brian Kelley, Aden Kelley, Madison Kelley, and Cameron Kelley. Great-grandchildren: Danielle Kelley, Jaydin Marshall, Morgan Ramirez, Daija Kelley, Josiah Clark, Josiah Herndon, and Makiri Lambert. Honorary children Myra F. Gordon-Kelley, Jeannie Tatum, Patricia Robb-Chester, Crittenden Ward, Aileen Roberts, and Clifford and Terri Hunt. She is also survived by a host of relatives in Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, New York, Illinois, and throughout the country.

The Kelley family would like to thank you for all the generous expressions of love and caring, food, cards, visits, phone calls, prayers, thoughts, and words of encouragement. We are deeply grateful and pray that Elsie Kelley’s legacy will forever be in your heart. May God bless
and keep you!

A viewing for Mrs. Kelley will be held on Thursday, July 15, 2021, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Reardon Funeral Home, 511 N. A Street, Oxnard. The Homegoing Celebration for Elsie will be held on Friday, July 16, 2021, at 11:00 am at the Bethel AME Church, 855 S. F Street, Oxnard. Viewing will be from 10:00 to 11:00 am. Interment will be at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park, Ventura, CA immediately following the service. Due to ongoing precautions related to the Covid 19 pandemic, attendance at the service will be limited to family and invited guests. The Homegoing Celebration will be live-streamed at or

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Elsie Maxine Kelley, please visit our floral store.


July 15, 2021

5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Reardon Funeral Home
511 North A St.
Oxnard, CA 93030

Homegoing Celebration
July 16, 2021

11:00 AM
Bethel A.M.E Church
855 S F St
Oxnard, CA 93030

Video is available for this event

July 16, 2021

1:00 PM
Ivy Lawn Cemetery

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