Doris Bruce Kelly remembered, honored by City Council

St. Elmo resident lived in community for more than 103 years; commemorative road sign to be placed near longtime home

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — During Tuesday night’s Chattanooga City Council meeting, both council members and attendees honored Mrs. Doris Bruce Kelly — a St. Elmo resident who spent more than 100 years in the community.

At the intersection of Tennessee and West 46th in St. Elmo, a commemorative street sign will soon stand to honor Kelly’s legacy.

Her story and life, according to her family and local leaders, involves teaching, serving God, and giving back.

Doris Bruce Kelly lived in St. Elmo for more than 103 years and soon a road sign near her longtime home will forever bear her name.

Kelly’s family hopes that she will now live on not just in their memory, but in those of local residents.

“I want them to remember a wonderful human being who exemplified what it means to care about others, what it means to empower education for our students and just what it means to be a leader — that’s everything that she exemplified,” said Tekelia Kelly, wife to Doris Kelly’s godson.

Doris Bruce Kelly graduated from Howard High School before earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

She then returned home to teach business classes at Howard, creating school-to-work transition internships for students.

City Vice Chair Raquetta Dotley says what she gave back to her community is nothing short of inspiring.

“She went off and got educated at Tennessee State University, but then decided to come back,” Dotley said. “So we want to think about when we’re going off and we’re achieving our goals, we want to pour back into the community the same way that Ms. Doris Kelly did.”

Dotley says she hopes the community remembers Kelly as an “educator, mentor [and] community lover.”

Tekelia Kelly says honoring her husband’s godmother has been “in the making” for some time and is grateful for everyone who helped see it through.

“She did so much in the community and for a long time went unrecognized doing it,” Dotley said. “To be able to come to city council today, and [see] her family come and recognize her was an amazing thing for the family.”

“Just to see this come into fruition is something that’s historic,” Kelly said. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Black History and oncoming Women’s History [Month]. How cool is that?”

“If I can help somebody as I walk along, then my living shall not be in vain,” was the mantra by which Kelly lived her life.

As for a date to reveal the new street sign, Dotley said during tonight’s meeting that there currently is no date set for the unveiling.

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