John Willis Kellam


Mr. John Willis Kellam, devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and community servant, passed away with his loving family by his side Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, at the age of 88. A native of Onley, he was born in his family home June 10, 1931, to the late Garnett Ashby Kellam and Mildred Walter Kellam.

Mr. Kellam shared 58 beautiful years of marriage with the love of his life, Ruth Taylor Kellam, who passed away in 2016. He is survived by their children, Garnett A. Kellam and wife, Jane, of Mappsville, and Ann Kellam Lawson and husband, Robbie, of Painter; grandchildren, Rachel C. Kellam, of Occohannock Neck, Hannah Kellam Kloch and husband, Andy, of Pawleys Island, S.C. and Robert Lawson IV and Jessie, and their son, Robert “Bobby” Lawson V, of Willis Wharf; beloved cousin and friend, Evelyn Walter Prettyman; his caregivers, Barbara Lee, Mildred “Peaches” Wise, and Kishima Johnson; and many other extended family members, all of whom he very much adored. Other than his wife and parents, he was predeceased by his sister, Mary Ashby Teaff.

Mr. Kellam worked as a special agent for the Virginia ABC Board, retiring in 1991 after 32 years of service. He proudly dedicated his life to serving his community, beginning with his lifelong commitment to his church, Onley United Methodist. As a faithful and active member, he was a longtime board member and past chairman of the church’s administrative counsel and volunteered his time in many capacities over the years. He was a 58-year member of the Central Lodge #300, A.F. & A.M., 50-year member of Central Shore Lions Club and Shriners International; longtime member of Eastern Shore Christian Businessmen’s Association; founding member of the Onley Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company; served on the board for Camp Occohannock on the Bay for decades; and past director on the board for the Society of the Preservation of Onancock Cemeteries. As a native of Onley, Mr. Kellam was very passionate about his town and ensured its success through his service on the town’s zoning board, town council, and six terms as mayor. In addition to his involvement locally, he was a senior chief in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve for 42 years. Mr. Kellam was the 2017 recipient of the Onancock Rotary Club’s Community Paul Harris Fellowship Award, presented in recognition of his significant impact throughout the Eastern Shore community. Mr. Kellam exemplified true compassion, loyalty and goodness, all of which will be forever remembered and honored through his life’s work.

A service to celebrate Mr. Kellam’s life was held at the Onley United Methodist Church Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, with the Rev. James D. Canody and the Rev. Alan Layman officiating. Interment, with Masonic Rites, followed in the Mount Holly Cemetery.

Mr. Kellam’s family requests that you continue his legacy of philanthropy with a contribution to the Onley United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 98, Onley, VA 23418; Camp Occohannock on the Bay, 9403 Camp Lane, Belle Haven, VA 23306; Central Shore Lions Club, c/o Ben Kidd, 2 Ashton Street, Onancock, VA 23417; or to the charity of one’s choice.

Memory tributes may be shared with the family at

Arrangements were made by the Williams-Onancock Funeral Home.

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