Elmer “Mike” Ellsworth Kelley III, 95

Mike was born in St. Petersburg, FL, April 18, 1926, to Elmer and Esther Kelley, but was a life-long resident of Lakeland. He passed away on June 26, 2021, in Lakeland, FL, at the age of 95.

He graduated from Shattuck Military School in Minnesota and served two and a half years in the infantry during WWII. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1949 where he was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
He married Wylene Bender of Plant City, FL in 1949. They were married for 62 years and raised three children in Lakeland. He was described by many as a true gentleman and a pleasure to be around. He enjoyed telling old stories about WWII, and he had an amazing ability to recall the past.

Mike joined his father at Butterkrust Bakery as a sales manager and eventually become CEO in 1958. He and his brother Dennis watched it evolve from the smallest wholesale bakery in the state in 1949 to the largest in 1988 when he retired. He served on the board of directors of the American Bakers Association, the Southern Bakers Association, and Swan Brothers Bakery in Knoxville, Tenn. He was also a member of the Blacksheep’s, an organization of executives in the baking industry.

Mike was a member of First Presbyterian Church, where his mother, Esther Kelley, organized the first Young Women’s Bible Class in 1939. He enjoyed spending time in New Smyrna Beach where he would often sit in the sun listening to Rush Limbaugh. Traveling Europe and researching his family’s genealogy were his favorite hobbies, along with watching Florida Gator football games.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Wylene Kelley; his son, Mike Kelley; his brother, Dennis Kelley; and his youngest brother, Jack Kelley. He is survived by his daughters, Denise Crenshaw (Ed) and Tracy Gaines (Gary); his daughter-in-law, Carol Kelley Tullos; his sisters-in-law, Kay Kelley and Sonja Kelley; and his seven grandchildren, Michelle Rearden (Joey), Brad Crenshaw (Hilary), Kelley Friedman, Graham Gaines (Mercy), Neil Gaines (Margaret), Christopher Kelley, Connor Kelley and 8 great grandchildren.

A family memorial is planned later in the summer. Condolences may be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.