Valerie Hunter-Kelly, an active member of the Clarksville community and a co-owner of Keller Williams Realty in Clarksville, died Nov. 7.
She was 66.
The Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran endorsed the real estate agents of Hunter-Kelly’s Air Assault Team nationally.
Her noteworthy accomplishments included selection as one of the top 500 most powerful women in real estate in 1999; her listing in the Wall Street Journal and Real Trends top 400 real estate professionals in August 2010 and her listing in the Wall Street Journal’s top 1,000 realtors in June 2011, 2012 and 2013.
In 2014, Hunter-Kelly was inducted as a Champion of Fort Campbell with Maj. Gen. James C. McConville to honor her for the dedication she showed in assisting soldiers and their families.
Champions of Fort Campbell are a select group of civilians who made significant contributions to men and women in uniform at Fort Campbell and are advisors to the commanding general on matters that affect soldiers and their families.
Hunter-Kelly was passionate about helping both civilian and military families in choosing a home and making it one of the most important decisions and investments of their lives, according to her obituary.
Longtime friend Khandra Smalley said Hunter-Kelly was like a sister to her, and she would dearly miss her friendship, fellowship and overall spirit she had of actually doing things – instead of just trying them.
With her success, Smalley said Hunter-Kelly never needed to wave a flag for her accomplishments.
“She has been a highly respected leader in this community,” Smalley said. “She was a giver and had a big heart. She wasn’t a softie, though. She was tough and expected the best out of people with whom she worked, and that is what she gave.”
Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts said Hunter-Kelly was one of those people who you would like instantly upon meeting her.
“The fruit of her life included a very successful real estate enterprise with her husband, Mark, but more importantly she invested her time, talent and resources in so much good in our community, including the Roxy Regional Theatre and became a Champion of Fort Campbell for her tireless work on behalf of our soldiers and their families,” Pitts said. “But she was more than that. Valerie's keen insight and selfless attitude made her a very effective advocate for our community. She leaves a legacy of service behind, the likes of which may never be matched again."
Hunter-Kelly served on the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, the YMCA board of directors, The Clarksville-Montgomery County Education Foundation’s board of directors, the Association of the U.S. Army’s Fort Campbell, Kentucky Chapter board of directors, the Clarksville Ladies Auxiliary Museum board, the Woodward Library Society at Austin Peay State University, the Clarksville United Way board of directors, the board for the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and the Clarksville Association of Realtors board of directors, and she was president of the Clarksville Association of Realtors in 2002.
She was a graduate of the 2011 Leadership Clarksville, a member of the 2014 class of Leadership Middle Tennessee and served on the Leadership Middle Tennessee board of directors as its secretary from 2014-2015.
Hunter-Kelly was a member of the Clarksville Rotary Club and served on the Tennova Hospital board of directors since 2015.
She was a member of the Roxy Regional Theater and the Clarksville-Montgomery County Arts and Heritage Council’s boards of directors and a member of Grace Church of the Nazarene.
After completing her first half-marathon in 2012, Hunter-Kelly became an avid runner with a mission to run a marathon or half-marathon in all 50 states and Washington, DC.
In January, she accomplished that goal when she completed a half-marathon in Maui, Hawaii, along with many friends and family who traveled with her to celebrate the milestone.
Close friend and neighbor, Andrea Goble, was able to cross the finish line with her.
“We always crossed our finish lines together,” Goble said. “We ran either marathons or half-marathons in 38 states together.”
The race in Hawaii was the pair’s last. All other races they had planned were canceled due to the pandemic.
It’s a memory Goble said she would forever hold dear.
“We had beautiful weather the whole time we were there,” Goble said. “Valerie had planned for our celebration with friends and family there who had come to cheer her on. She even hired a caterer for after the run.”
Although it was Goble who first introduced running to Hunter-Kelley, it was Hunter-Kelley who became a more dedicated runner, according to Goble.
“She would never miss,” Goble said. “I’m going to miss my running buddy.”
Valerie Hunter-Kelly is survived by retired Col. Mark A. Kelly, her husband of 39 years; her two daughters, Antoinette Nicole Kelly and Ashley Noel Kelly; her sister Beverly D. Hunter; and her brother, Herb T. (Jannette) Hunter.
She was laid to rest Nov. 13 at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery West.
Foston Funeral Home of Clarksville handled the arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations be made in her honor to the Food Initiative at 5470 Sango Road, Clarksville, TN 37043 or the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center at 200 S. Second St., Clarksville, TN 37040 or the Roxy Regional Theater at 100 Franklin St., Clarksville, TN 37040.