On Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at 8 a.m., the sun rays of heaven shined so brightly from above and welcomed Dr. Earlene Walker-Kelly to her heavenly home. She eloquently responded obediently to God's call for a final resting place, where she would live in eternal joy and peace. A true follower of Christ, Dr. Earlene Walker-Kelly placed her entire life in God's hands.

Dr. Earlene Walker-Kelly's earthly home began at her birth on May 14, 1959, in Sumter. She was the baby of 20 children born to the late Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brown Sr. As the baby of the crew, Dr. Walker-Kelly was spoiled not only by her parents, but her siblings as well. At a very early age, she was taught the importance of faith. She was educated in Sumter County public schools and graduated from South Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science in History in 1980.

Upon graduating from South Carolina State University, Dr. Walker-Kelly moved to Delaware, where she taught history. While making a mark in the world, she then married Robert Walker. As two free spirits, they enjoyed traveling and moving across the globe. Their love was confirmed with the birth of their two beautiful daughters. Dr. Walker-Kelly loved her daughters and worked tirelessly to ensure they never wanted for anything. She also ensured that she instilled faith, perseverance and kindness within them both. In the late 1980's, Dr. Walker-Kelly's passion for teaching and education expounded. She fell in love with early childhood education and became the director of Rocking Horse Day Care Center in Atlanta.

In the early 1990's, Dr. Walker-Kelly and her daughters moved to Sumter. She was determined to blaze a new trail for her daughters and anyone else who had the fire within to succeed. Dr. Walker-Kelly spent decades training, educating and teaching within the field of early childhood education. The span of her reach was limitless - from Wilder Elementary School to Sumter County Head Start to becoming the department chair of arts and education at Williamsburg Technical College, she planted seeds everywhere. Dr. Walker-Kelly spent countless years training with Sumter County First Steps and Bamberg County First Steps. Her reach didn't end there, as she helped several individuals open successful childcare centers.

As a pillar in the educational and training community as well as the church community, Dr. Walker-Kelly served as Unionville AME Church Education Club president and president of the women's missionary society. She also served in many clubs and auxiliaries and provided additional love and support to the YPD.

Dr. Walker-Kelly prayed to experience real love once more. She fell deeply in love and married the love of her life, James D. Kelly. With this love affair, she inherited two handsome sons. The 23 years of love shared between James and Dr. Walker-Kelly was deep and real. They both loved and supported each other unconditionally.

Dr. Walker-Kelly leaves many to cherish her memories: her husband, James D. Kelly of Sumter; her children, Dr. Roblena E. Walker and Robbie L. Walker, both of Atlanta; her stepsons, Tyrone (Vicki) Kelly of Virginia and James Kelly Jr. of New York; her siblings, Leroy (Janie) Hudson and Hattie Slater, both of New York, Willie (Diana) Hudson of Sumter, Mattie Snyder of New Castle, Delaware, Audrey (Sam) McDonald of Orangeburg, Leon Brown of California and Ruby Robinson of Sumter; a host of sisters-in-laws and brothers-in-law; a granddog, Fluffy of Atlanta; several adopted grandchildren and godchildren; many nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives, friends and community members.

In accordance with COVID-19 guidelines, the family is requesting face masks and social distancing be observed by relatives and friends during limited visitation at the home, 605 Hattie Lane, Sumter.

Public viewing will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. on Monday in the John Wesley Williams Sr. Memorial Chapel of Williams Funeral Home Inc., 821 N. Main St., Sumter.

Parking lot / graveside services will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at Unionville AME Church, 1330 Swimming Pen Road, Mayesville, with the Rev. Alvin E. Webb, pastor, officiating.

The funeral procession will leave the home at 12:20 p.m.

These services are entrusted to the management and staff of Williams Funeral Home Inc., 821 N. Main St., Sumter. Online messages may be sent to the family at williamsfuneralhome@sc.rr.com. Visit us on the web at www.WilliamsFuneralHomeInc.Com.