Vashti Forbes-Kelly, 74, retired Richmond schools secretary dies

8/12/2016, 2:13 p.m.
Vashti Patricia Forbes-Kelly helped get things done with little recognition. Before she retired in 2000 after 31 years, principals at ...

Vashti Patricia Forbes-Kelly helped get things done with little recognition.

Before she retired in 2000 after 31 years, principals at Armstrong High School and Franklin Military Academy counted on her as a school secretary to keep things humming. Students knew they could always come to her for help and teachers knew she could get them anything they needed.

“She was the backbone of the office,” said Alexander “Jack” Boyd, retired principal of Franklin Military Academy. “I couldn’t have done my job without her,” he said, citing her ability to put parents and young people at ease when they came to the office.

For years, the longtime Church Hill resident was a tireless volunteer for candidates seeking to run for office. She also helped organize banquets and affairs for groups like the Metropolitan Business League and assisted ministries at Fourth Baptist Church, where she was a lifelong member.

“She bestowed kindness, generosity, compassion, thoughtfulness and favor upon everyone in her life,” said her niece, Heather F. Collins.

Mrs. Forbes-Kelly, who battled Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease since 2014 and was being cared for by her daughter, Robin Kelly-May, died Tuesday, July 26, 2016. She was 74.

Final tributes were paid to her during a funeral Aug. 1 at Fourth Baptist. Burial followed in Oakwood Cemetery.

Mrs. Forbes-Kelly was the 10th of 13 children born to Willie J. and Elizabeth Forbes.

An Armstrong graduate, she began work as a Richmond schools secretary in 1969 and continued until her retirement, when she also was named 2000 School Secretary of the Year for Richmond Public Schools.

She put in untold hours at Fourth Baptist, where she volunteered with the Women’s Ministry, the Greeters Ministry, the Senior Ministry, the Yearbook Ministry, the Christian Education Ministry and founded the Healing Zone Ministry.

She helped organize the church’s anniversary programs and served on the team that tallied collections.

Mrs. Forbes-Kelly also was an election officer at the city polls, served as an officer with the Richmond Education Association and was active in the AARP Chamberlayne Chapter #390 and the National Association of Education Professionals.

Mrs. Forbes-Kelly was the widow of Robert Kelly Sr.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Forbes-Kelly is survived by a son, Robert Kelly Jr.; three sisters, Judith D. Forbes Collins-Caldwell, Nancy E. Forbes-Hamlett and Rose L. Forbes; two brothers, Booker J. Forbes and Vernon M. Forbes; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.