‘Helpful spirit’ ends years of Red Cross service

Dennis (Deke) Kelley is leaving our staff after just over six years of being our co-worker at the Regional Headquarters office in Springfield. Of course he’s been here making friends for longer than that, having first come to us as a front desk volunteer. His willingness to do anything we asked, his heart for people and his daily availability led us to ask him to take a position as building maintenance.  He started on Sept. 8, 2008.

Dennis (Deke) Kelley is "blown away" by co-workers blowing bubbles at Red Cross headquarters in Springfield.

Dennis (Deke) Kelley is “blown away” by co-workers blowing bubbles at Red Cross headquarters in Springfield.

If you know Deke, you’ve got a friend. His ready smile and helpful spirit endear him to us all. Deke is from the area. After school he served in the military service which led him to overseas locations. After completing his service, he was working for a local firm and living in an apartment in Springfield when late one evening after going to the grocery store his car was hit by another car and he suffered severe injuries. In the ensuing weeks, while being hospitalized he came to discover that in the course of his treatments he had become a victim of HIV-AIDS through contaminated equipment. His life was changed forever, and this devastating event cost him his job. The magnitude and the combinations of medicine he has had to take to keep him alive and functioning has been an on-going and changing thing. Through all of this, Deke always maintained his friendly, helping manner toward every one.

Deke was particularly close to his mother and his sister. After his sister bought a home near Buffalo, Deke’s mother told him that he needed to move to Buffalo to be near his sister as they were both going to depend on him. Nothing is greater than family love, and Deke moved from his apartment in Springfield to buy a home adjacent to his sister’s home. There he cared for both his mother and his sister, mowing and keeping up their property. In time, he lost his mother, and in just recent years he also lost his sister. He has some cousins but they are not nearby, and he has not had close contact with them for years. His family now extends to his co-workers, his school friends and neighbors who live around him. He has a special heart for elderly folks and often cooks for them and supports them in other ways. Through his illness, Deke became a spokesman for HIV-AIDS awareness. He and his close friend, Terri, have worked to and will continue to present programs to heighten awareness of HIV-AIDS to school children and other groups.

We are honored to have had this opportunity to work with Deke. We are thrilled to know that he will continue to serve the community in his new adventure and we look forward to seeing him down the road. “You all are my family” he said as we blew bubbles to send him on his way. Thank you Deke for loving us like family, the feeling is mutual and you will always be part of our family!


-Article by Larry Worsham


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