carl kelley

Carl Kelley

Even with business interests in several states, Carl Kelley cared deeply for Muskogee, friends said.

"He had a real caring heart for this community," banker Max Boydstun said. "Hence the involvement with CASA and other organizations. I know all the 4-H and FFA livestock shows, you'd see him there. He gave quietly to a lot of them, too."

Kelley died Friday night.

Boydstun said Kelley owned Jackson Hewitt franchises in four states. He owned SERVPRO of Muskogee/McIntosh Counties and Tahlequah, as well as SERVPRO of Fort Smith, Arkansas. He also had owned a Garfield's restaurant in Muskogee and was one of the owners of Little Italy.

Kelley was one of the founding members of the Exchange Club of Muskogee, said Brad Smythe, a longtime friend.

"Carl had a heart for helping children," Smythe said. "He was very passionate about the programs we supported, which primarily was child abuse prevention."

Kelley oversaw judging at Exchange Club's annual Chili and Barbecue Cook-off.

"He was a stickler for making sure the rules were abided by," Smythe said. "He was very much involved with the cardboard boat regatta, dedicating not only his personal time but his finances to these things he believed so much in."

Smythe said Kelley was always there to listen to problems and give good advice.

Former Muskogee teacher Linda Hasler Reid said Kelley's death is "a heartbreaker."

"Every time he saw you, he was going to have a hug," she said. 

Kelley served with the Muskogee Police Department before opening his businesses, Reid said.

"I think maybe the skills he brought from there was one reason he was so successful in business," she said. "He got along so well with people. It's a natural."

Reid called Kelley a go-getter when it came to business, but he also took time to meet with customers and friends. 

"There are many businesses here that he started, and they're in other communities," she said. "When it was Garfield's, he'd come over and sit with you at dinner."

Kelley also showed a deep love for his family, friends said.

Boydstun said Kelley cared equally for each of his four children.

"Every time I saw him, he was caring for his kids," Reid said. "I saw him days before he must have fallen ill and he was coming out of his kid's basketball game in Fort Gibson."

She also said Kelley loved going to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

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