February 25, 1942 - January 15, 2021
VFW Frank C. High Medal of Honor Post 3440 former Commander Royce Dale Kelley, of Bandon, died January 15, 2021, after a long battle with kidney disease caused by an injury while in the service. He was 79.
Royce was born Feb. 25, 1942, in Green City, Missouri to Nellie Rose and Dale Kelley.
He was employed in different professions over the years, including working in real estate, and served from 1962 to 1980 in the U.S. Navy as a Chief Petty Officer. He was a Vietnam veteran.
Royce and his wife Deborah (Gaucher) Kelley moved to Bandon from Deming, New Mexico in 2016, and purchased a house near the ocean, which they had dreamed of doing in retirement. Royce and Deborah quickly came to love Bandon and said there was nowhere else they wanted to be.
Royce and Deborah became involved in the Bandon VFW Post 3440, and Royce was named Commander in 2018. He stepped down due to health concerns in July, 2020.
He and Deborah were instrumental in infusing renewed energy into the VFW post, encouraging new membership and planning and following through with activities and projects to get members and the public involved.
In 2020, Royce helped organize two motor parades that adhered to safety guidelines in lieu of participation in the usual community parades that had been canceled.
Something Royce was extremely proud of was the establishment of the Bandon Veterans Memorial in Bandon City Park, which was dedicated during an impressive ceremony on November 11, 2019. He was a representative of the VFW on the board that was successful in getting the Veterans Memorial funded and built.
Royce loved the outdoors, spending time riding his quad with his dog Tootsie, hunting, fishing and playing Canasta. He was also skilled at building and was always there to help his neighbors and friends when needed. He was a mentor to many.
Royce is survived by his wife, Deborah; daughters, Diana Kelley of California, Esther Vaillancourt and her husband, Mark of California, Kris Kelly and her husband, Mike of Idaho; son, Major Sean Kelley and his wife, Krystal of Florida; stepchildren, Aimee-lee Dawkins of Arizona, and Evana Dawkins of Oregon; sister, Jan Kelley of California; 11 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; and many other family members.
Royce wished for his family and friends to have a get-together at the VFW for steaks and beer to celebrate his life. He wanted no crying or sadness. Everyone is invited and a notice will be published when the date is finalized.
Cremation rites have been held. A private service will be held at the National Cemetery on Cave Creek road in Arizona. That will also be scheduled at a later time so family can make arrangements to be there.
A memorial at sea will be held at a later date by close friends and members of the Bandon Veterans Honor Guard on the Lady Kathy. He will be greatly missed.
I lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the VFW Frank C. High Medal of Honor Post 3440 in Bandon, Oregon. Friends may offer condolences online at westrumfuneralservice.com. Arrangements are under the direction of Amling Schroeder Funeral Service, Bandon.