AG Community saddened by the loss of a great warrior and leader
Newport News, Virginia — On Sunday, March 28, 2021, we lost a great warrior of the Adjutant General’s Corps, and an even better comrade. Colonel (retired) James C. (Buddy) Kelly passed away at 75 years old in Newport News, Virginia.
Buddy held a variety of key leadership positions during his distinguished 30-year Army career, including Deputy AG, 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg; Team Chief, DAIG, Washington, D.C.; G1/AG, 5th Mechanized Division, Fort Polk; Chief, Promotions Branch & AG Officer Branch Chief, PERSCOM, Washington, D.C.; Deputy Commander, 1st Personnel Command & Secretary General Staff, USAREUR; and Deputy Director, EPMD, PERSCOM, Washington, D.C. His final assignment was as the TRADOC AG at Fort Monroe. He was also a Vietnam and Grenada veteran. Buddy retired in 1999 and was named a Distinguished Member of the AG Corps in 2012.
There are countless Senior Army HR Leaders, all the way to the General Officer level, that Buddy took under his wing at a young age and set the conditions for their ultimate success by his example and training.
A consummate leader
Buddy was the consummate leader and HR operator in peace and war. He was quiet, confident and the best enlisted strength manager on the planet. He was also a very special and exceptionally effective mentor. There are countless Senior Army HR Leaders, all the way to General Officer level, that Buddy took under his wing. He set the conditions for their ultimate success by his example and training. In addition, he was a tremendous athlete who loved softball and basketball, and as many know, he was a very accomplished golfer. He was kind, a true southern gentleman who loved his family and friends and was always willing to help, no matter the circumstances. In the ensuing years following his retirement, he threw himself into the only job he wanted and truly loved the most which was “spoiling Vicky” and he did that with every fiber of his body until the Lord called him home Sunday.
Services planned for April with interment at Arlington later
Buddy is survived by the love of his life and 43-year partner, Mrs. Vicky Kelly of Newport News, Virginia; his daughter Celeste (Eddy) Zigmont, from Clinton, North Carolina; and his son, Craig Kelly, from Wilmington, North Carolina. A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, April 9, 2021, at 11am, at Liberty Live Church, 1021 Big Bethel Rd, Hampton, Virginia and may be viewed via livestream here. Interment to follow at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the Liberty Live Church Building Fund, Hampton, Virginia.
This article has been updated.