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Kelsey family reunion

The descendants of Philander and Ruby Baldwin Kelsey celebrated their ninth quinquinnial family reunion the weekend of June 30-July 3 in Farmville. The two surviving children of Mr. and Mrs. Kelsey were present; Carl Kelsey, 85, and his wife Sadie of Farmville and Nancy Williams, 79, of Newport News. Those missed include Philander Jr., killed during World War II in 1944, Libby Welchlin, who died in 1999, Milton Kelsey, who died in 2002, Franklin Kelsey, who died in 2005, Lucille Gee, 2006, Jean Palmer, 2008, Ray Kelsey, 2011, Rachel McBride, 2012, Becky Newman, 2013, Helen Breckinridge, 2014, and Ruth Simpson, 2016. The reunion tradition began five years after the death of Ruby in October 1972.

Reunion events were held in the fellowship hall of Appomattox P.E. Presbyterian Church the church where Philander & Ruby attended their entire married life. Activities began on Friday, June 30 with the distribution of name tags by Diane and Heather Schember, of Glen Allen, t-shirts designed by Justin Chilton, of Durham, North Carolina, and Kelsey Family Reunion 2017 — a book which included the reunion schedule, family history, recipes, five-year family member updates, birthdates, anniversaries, contact information and memorials — compiled by Jennifer Dickson, of Farmville, and Justin Chilton. The evening meal — “A Sentimental Supper” — featured traditional family favorites including Kelsey Boys fried chicken, Libby’s corn pudding, Ruth’s deviled eggs, Lucille’s baked beans, Jean’s lettuce salad, Rachel’s reunion salad, Becky’s carrots, Helen’s punch, Nancy’s rolls, Ruby’s mountain top pies and Philander’s orange-pineapple ice-cream.

The meal was followed by a “Family Tribute” remembering those who died since the last reunion including Rachel McBride, 2012, Robin Dickson, 2012, Luke Shirley, 2012, Becky Newman, 2013, Helen Breckinridge, 2014, Andrew Aimesbury, 2015, Ruth Simpson, 2016, Sonny Williams, 2016, and Jack DeHowitt, 2016. Susan Shirley, husband Bill Shirley of Churchville.

The family tribute event also introduced new family members in attendance Friday — born since the last reunion: Courtlyn and Chandler Whirley, children of Renae and Josh, siblings of Camden-Rice, Ann and Katie Sue Shirley, daughters of Rob and Sarah, siblings of John Ward-Verona, Liam Simpson, son of Ruth-Prospect, Brody Early, son of Mitch and Gina, brother of Mason-North Chesterfield, Elyse and Emma Palmer, daughters of Steven and Kamala, siblings of Sophie and Gray-Sewickley, Pennsylvania, Meredith Jackson, daughter of Jack and Elizabeth-Newport News, Sophia Hankins, daughter of Kirsten and Josh, sister of Remillia-Farmville, and Thad Breckinridge III son of T.J. Breckinridge and Tiffany Cuffle-Farmville, married since the last reunion: Brenda Palmer, wife of Kevin-Hamburg, New York and special friends: Tonya Marion, Doug Shirley-Staunton, Cathy Greer, Phil Kelsey-Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, Terri Coleman, Hardy Kelsey-Prospect, Lizzie Smith, Matthew Breckinridge-Barboursville, Tiffany Cuffle, T.J. Breckinridge-Farmville, and Amy Burger, Brian Williams-Newport News. Later, Carl presented “Kelsey Storytelling,” enlightening Ruby and Philander’s grandchildren with stories of their parent’s childhood and Kelsey/Baldwin ancestry.

Saturday, July 1 events began with an “Early Breakfast” sponsored by Peggy and Jimmie, of North Chesterfield, and other members of the Early family. The release cited following the long held tradition of Lucille’s branch, breakfast included a host of sweet treats as well eggs, bacon and biscuits. Rachael and Randy Early, of Richmond, led children and adults in creating license plate, butterfly, God’s eye and friendship bracelet crafts in the morning and outdoor Jenga, Yahtzee, spike ball, hula hoops, ball toss and bubbles throughout the evening. Family members chose mid-day activities such as visiting the Pamplin home of cousin Gerald Palmer, of Sarasota, Florida, for fishing and boating on the lake, walking the High Bridge Trail, checking out downtown Farmville and touring family farms in Prospect and Cumberland.

“While Steve Williams recovered from a propane smoker accident at home in Newport News, many other family members stepped up to facilitate his menu for Saturday evening,” officials said in the release. “Carl and Caleb Kelsey, wife Nancy, of Farmville, and Mitch Early fried the fish.”

The release cited Gerald and Kevin supplied and grilled the hot-dogs, while Becky’s branch — Jimmy Adams, of Savannah, Georgia, Cindy Gurley, husband Ken, Glenda Gurley, all of Hernando, Mississippi, Lisa Gurley, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Amanda Gurley, of Como, Mississippi, and Pam and George Michaels, of Virginia Beach, coordinated the drinks and sides. Sarah and Michael Schember, of Farmville, presented her cake from the Cake Kitchen.

“The group photo was then taken by family friend, Jamie Whelan, of Williamsburg, followed by Kelsey Bingo hosted by Peggy and Randy Early,” officials said in the release. “Instead of numbers, the calls featured items or phases made memorable by Philander or Ruby and prizes were sentimental items related to childhood including azaleas, mouse traps, moon pies, small bottled cokes and old fashioned candy.”

According to the release, children enjoyed light up bracelets and necklaces provided by Debra Sue Shumaker, of Prospect.

Family attended the Appomattox PE Church on Sunday morning where the Rev. Chuck Klotzberger led a service in Christian patriotism.

“Cathy Greer sang ‘A Closer Walk with Thee,’ and Mitchell Early sang “Amazing Grace,’” officials said in the release. “A quick lunch was offered as goodbyes were said.”

The release cited others in attendance included Sherri and Lloyd Robinson and children Stuart, Lanna and Suzanne, of Mocksville, North Carolina; Averette and Mary Kay Simpson, David and Robyn Simpson with teens Daniel and Jacqueline, Derek and Rebecca Simpson, Marshall Simpson, Alisa Lesueur with son Lance, Peggy Kelsey, and Kim Shumaker, all of Prospect; Polly Duncan, Peggy Kelsey’s twin sister, of Columbia; Michelle Simpson with special friend Julio Jimenez-Roanoke; Will and Katherine Shirley, children of Doug; Kenny and Vickie Kelsey, of Rocklin, California; Gary and Paulette Kelsey, of Applegate, California; Charles and Jean Kelsey, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Chris and Don Dial, of Crystal River, Florida; Todd Early and Anne McNeil with sons Connelly and Callum Early, of Midlothian; Kevin Owen Palmer, of the Philippines; Wayne Palmer, of Amity, Oregon; Micah Palmer, of Monmouth, Oregon; Abby Kelsey-Charlottesville; Beth and Mike Rivenbark, of Newport News; Amy Breckinridge, Nick Kelsey, Thad Breckinridge, all of Farmville, Rebekah Breckinridge with special friend Taylor Martin, of Pamplin; Katie and Chris Tyner with daughters Charlotte and Genevieve, of Goldsboro, North Carolina; and Andrew and Sara Breckinridge, of Norfolk. A total of 125 people attended.