AUSTIN (KXAN) — A final goodbye to a husband, father and son comes Tuesday as Hutto Police Sgt. Christopher Kelley is laid to rest. Funeral services got underway at Shoreline Church in Northwest Austin at 11 a.m.
“In one instant, our lives stopped,” said Kelley’s wife, Michele Kelley, through her tears. “To my community, you have come together — providing our family an overwhelming amount of support and love … To my children, I love you. I promise to always be there for you, and I promise to help you never forget your daddy. And to my love, I promise to love and protect your babies. You are loved by so many. I love you, and I will always love you. You are our hero, and I am proud to be your wife. Please watch over us and protect us and let us know you’re still here. Until we meet again, love you.”
Michele took some time to thank Kelley’s brothers and sisters in blue, saying that she and Hutto Police Chief Earl Morrison were now forever connected.
Morrison says he celebrates the fact that they were lucky to know Kelley. Morrison shared a letter Kelley wrote just before one of his deployments; a Texas native and high school graduate from Elgin, Kelley enlisted in the Air Force at the age of 18 and served for eight years — until 2004 — including tours in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.
In Kelley’s letter, he wrote that some men chose early on what their purpose was in life — saying he deemed himself a defender, one that stands at the gates so that other may feel safe inside his walls.
“A defender, a hero, a son, a husband, a daddy, a leader, a neighbor and friend,” Morrison added to the list, before answering the tough question that Kelley’s friends and family continue to ask: How do you go on? “We go on because Chris would want us to go on.”
“Chris broke the bar, covered it up, remade the bar,” said Matt Toomey of his best friend’s standards and integrity.
“He was a one-of-a-kind role model,” said Chris Vela, remembering not only his friendship with Kelley but also moments of his police career with him. “Chris always led from the front, and we eagerly followed … Chris, you are my best friend. I love you now and forever will.”
“Chris was a gift to the City of Hutto,” said Hutto City Manager Karen Daley. “He was a great cop and supervisor with a wicked sense of humor.”
Daley says all of the stories and memories of Kelley have the same underlying theme: He could instantly connect with who he was helping and put his heart and soul in every case and citizen he served. Kelley answered the call of duty every time, Daley recalled. She says because the Hutto Police Department is inside city hall, they got to interact more than other police departments throughout Central Texas get to interact with other city employees.
Daley says Kelley approached the world with great service — service to the city that set the bar for others.
“His approach to the world, to his work and to his life was dedication,” said Daley. “We won’t get to see that gleam of mischief in his eye … or listen to that rapid-fire quick wit anymore … Thanks for sharing Chris with us. We are all better for it.”
Dozens of organizations from across Texas are in the area to honor Kelley, and the Hutto Chamber of Commerce is encouraging neighbors to put up a blue light bulb on their porch in his honor.
You can also honor Kelley by lining up along the procession route. Once funeral services end at Shoreline, the motorcade continues onto MoPac, State Highway 45 East and onto State Highway 130. The procession continues up to Killeen, where Kelley will be buried with full military honors.