Kelly Dean Beckelhimer, 77, of Bluffton, SC, passed away on December 28, 2021. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Carol Johnston Beckelhimer.
Dean suffered for several years with Transverse Myelitis, a rare disease that severely limited his mobility. He fought to overcome complete paralysis, and was able to lead an active life. He spent the last three years tooling around his neighborhood on his golf cart, helping neighbors with their landscaping projects. In 2005 Dean survived an alligator attack when 11-foot-long Bruno, a beloved resident of the lagoon in Dean’s Sea Pines community, unexpectedly jumped out of the water and clamped his jaws around Dean’s upper thighs. Bruno recognized Dean as an old friend and let him go, leaving Dean with some teeth marks and a lot of local notoriety. Dean ultimately succumbed to congestive heart failure and other complications. He spent his last days surrounded by family and friends, sharing many bittersweet stories and quite a few hearty laughs.
Dean was born in Harper, West Virginia, in 1944, the son of coal miner Kelly Eula Beckelhimer and Thelma Biggs Beckelhimer. He was a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, West Virginia. As a young man, Dean was ambitious and hardworking, finding work that allowed him to travel across the country and establish close life-long friendships. Dean always had a passion for plants and gardening. As a young entrepreneur looking to fulfill a dream, he founded a lawn care business and garden center in Beckley. With his easily recognizable uniform of khaki pants and green polo shirt, Dean and his company prioritized high-quality plants and personalized customer service, raising the bar for the lawn care industry of southern West Virginia. He was committed to the growth and development of his local community, with leadership roles in community business organizations, the WV Homebuilders Association, and the United Methodist Temple. Dean and family relocated to Hilton Head, SC, in 1987, where he built on his landscaping background by establishing Kelly Green Lawnscapes.
Dean was a dedicated and active member of St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church, serving for years as head usher and President of the Board of Trustees, among many other roles. Using his talents in landscaping, he took great personal pride in making the church grounds beautiful. He oversaw the landscaping and donated flowers for all seasons. He was especially proud of the large cross-shaped azalea bed he created, which bloomed white every Easter.
He is survived by his sister, Norma McGuire (Jack), brother Doug Beckelhimer, aunt Dixie Garcia (Darrell); sister-in-law Dotty Jo Webb (Mike); by five children: Jeffrey Dean Beckelhimer (Christy Shelton), Joseph William Wood, Michelle Renee Dalton (Jeff Dalton), Michael Johnston Beckelhimer (Ron Lane), and Rodney Kurk Beckelhimer; grandchildren Joshua, Taylor, Tiffanie, Brandon, Bradley, Hailey and Christopher; 6 great grandchildren; and nephews, nieces and cousins Sandy, Jack Kelly, Tim, Troy, Tony, Randy, Christy and Johnny.
A memorial service will be held at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church, Hilton Head, SC, on Thursday, January 6th at 2:00 pm.
Visitation in Beckley, WV, will take place at Melton’s at 1:00 pm-2:00 pm, followed by graveside rites at Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens at 3:00. All are welcome. Pallbearers will be Jeffrey, Joey, Michael, Rodney, Joshua and Brandon. Honorary pallbearers will be Jack Kelly McGuire and Ron Lane. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to support outreach programs at St. Andrew By-the-Sea UMC, 20 Pope Ave, Hilton Head, SC, 29928.