Kelly Hampton, 77, of Zena passed away on Feb. 27, 2020. Funeral Services will be 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at Grove's First Baptist Church in Grove,Oklahoma
Kelly was born on Nov. 8, 1942, in the back of his parents' general store in Zena. He went to grade school at Zena and graduated from Grove High School, where he lettered in football as an offensive and defensive lineman. He was the second Ridgerunner to be named to the Oklahoma All-State football team.
He met his wife, Lona, during junior high school in Vinita after a football game there. He didn't see her again until three years later, when he was dragging Main Street in Grove with his friends.
"Lord, I'm not very smart, but I was smart enough to pull the car over and start a conversation with her," Kelly liked to say. He married his high school sweetheart in 1961.
Kelly went to Oklahoma State University on a football scholarship. His college highlights include dumping a duffel bag full of 2,000 golf balls down the hall in his dorm and being in a 300-person snowball fight on fraternity row. He graduated in 1964 with an education degree and eventually earned a master's degree at Northeastern State University.
He spent 45 years as a teacher, counselor, coach, principal and superintendent at Glencoe, Tahlequah, Jay, Grove, Colcord and Spavinaw. He couldn't go anywhere without seeing someone he taught, coached, counseled, paddled, motivated or helped get a job.
When he wasn't in a school, Kelly was checking his cows on his 400 acres in Zena. He loved telling stories and had a lot of sayings he didn’t mind repeating.
Kelly said he was proud that all three of his children joined him and Lona in the family business of education. Sons David and Robert have spent their careers as teachers and principals and Kristi has been a teacher and took over Lona's Cherokee classes at Grove.
When he was featured in OSU's alumni magazine, Kelly said he stayed in education because the kids keep you young. "The kids keep you alive. They challenge you every day," he told the magazine. "Kids are the least of your problems. It's the adults."
When he was asked to reflect on his life and career, Kelly said he lived a charmed life.
"Everywhere I've been, I've just been lucky. I've had a good life."
Kelly was preceded in death by his parents, John Hampton and Lizzie Kelly Hampton, and sister Peggy Teel.
Survivors include his sister Sue McGhee and husband, John, of Grove; wife of 58 years, Lona; son David Hampton and wife, Kim, of Zena; son Robert and wife, Diane, of Zena; daughter Kristi Collington and husband, Jason, of Zena; grandchildren Ben Hampton and wife, Cassie; Kellea Hampton; Case Hampton; Ashley Hampton; Alicia Hampton; and Kellon Collington; and great-grandchildren Evy Hampton, Kager Hampton and John Allen Hampton.
Five oak trees have been donated to be planted at Grove, Jay and Colcord schools also with a tree at the Zena Cemetery and the family farm. Memorial donations can be made at the Bank of Grand Lake, funds will go to purchasing additional trees and plaques to be placed at each location.
A visitation for family and friends will be held from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM on Monday, March 2, 2020 at the Worley-Luginbuel Funeral Home Chapel. Funeral Services will be at 2 p.m., on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at Grove's First Baptist Church with Pastor Gary Bishop officiating.
Serving as pallbearers will be Mike Reece, Larry Shackelford, Roy Polland, Jim Girten, John Northcutt, David Duff, Orvil Cunningham and Vic Clouse. Honorary bearers will be Wayne Smith, Charlie Cooper, Bill Butler and Jim Bradford. Interment will be held at the Zena Cemetery. Services are under the direction of Worley-Luginbuel Funeral Home in Grove, Okla.