Marion, Arkansas police chief dies after 25-day battle with COVID-19

Marion, Akr. police chief dies from coronavirus

MARION, Ark. (WMC) - A Mid-South community is mourning the loss of its police chief who died after battling COVID-19 for several weeks.

Gary Kelley was Marion’s police chief for 38 years planning to retire in a couple of months. He was only the second police chief in the city of Marion

Law enforcement from Marion police to the Crittenden County Sheriff’s office and West Memphis police gathered at Methodist University Hospital to escort the body of Marion police chief Gary Kelley to this West Memphis funeral home.

Crittenden County Sheriff Mike Allen posted on Facebook a tribute to Chief Kelley, who he considered a friend.

“I know we all prayed for a different outcome, but there is assurance in the fact that he had his affairs in place, that his wife would be taken care of and he knew his son would also help see to that, he knew his department was in good hand but most important he knew Jesus and where he would spend eternity. He everything in place to make this step,” Allen wrote.

Allen said Kelley spent 25 days in the hospital much of it on a ventilator. He died Tuesday from complications of COVID-19 He was 63 years old.

He also shared several pictures:

Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley dies of COVID-19
Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley dies of COVID-19 (Source: Mike Allen)
Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley dies of COVID-19
Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley dies of COVID-19 (Source: Mike Allen)
Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley dies of COVID-19
Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley dies of COVID-19 (Source: Mike Allen)
Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley dies of COVID-19
Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley dies of COVID-19 (Source: Mike Allen)
Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley dies of COVID-19
Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley dies of COVID-19 (Source: Mike Allen)

The City of Marion also shared a Facebook post mourning Kelley’s death:

With heavy hearts, we mourn the loss today of our beloved MPD Chief of Police, Gary Kelley. Having faithfully served...

Posted by The City of Marion on Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Kelley was married and has a son.

Kelley had a 43-year career in law enforcement working at one point for the Crittenden Crittenden County sheriff’s office.

West Memphis police also posted a condolence message.

The WMPD is saddened to hear about the loss of long-time Chief Kelley. Our sympathy to his family and to our fellow officers of Marion PD and to the entire community.

Posted by West Memphis Police Department on Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Officers at the funeral home told me Gary Kelley was a wonderful man and police chief. They considered him a friend. The officers said they were not allowed to talk on camera.

Kelley had planned to retire at the end of February. Marion Assistant chief Brandon Hinkle was named as Hinkle’s replacement.

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.