Cover photo for Kelly Gray Smith's Obituary
Kelly Gray Smith Profile Photo

Kelly Gray Smith

September 17, 1959 — January 12, 2024


Kelly Gray Smith

Ms. Kelly Gray Smith, age 64, passed away on Friday afternoon, January 12, 2024 at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center with her beloved daughter, close family and friends by her side. Kelly was born in Elizabethtown, NC to parents, Lemuel Alexander Smith Junior and Opal Gray Smith. She was the older sister to Lemuel Alexander Smith III.

Kelly grew up attending the public schools in Bladen County, graduating from Clarkton High School in 1977. She then attended Peace College University before becoming a University of North Carolina Tarheel. Shortly following her graduation, she began her career in insurance serving the industry loyally in multiple facets until her retirement in 2021. One of her happiest honors during her career was the years she spent serving on the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center Board whose purpose is to enhance and nurture the students of Appalachian State University’s Risk Management and Insurance Program. A program her daughter, Annalie graduated from in 2016.

Kelly had many joys in life. She was an exceptional athlete - softball player, cheerleader, golfer, tennis player and water skier. Countless childhood weekends were spent at Long Beach with her either behind the boat on water skis or behind the wheel as she patiently taught her family and all of Bladen County how to water ski. She fervently served the lord - she was a member of the church choir, a Deacon and active in Women of the Church. She had an eye for arts and was a master crafter. Kelly could take something old and thrown away and create an exquisite work of art. Equally, she could step into a kitchen and create a thoughtful and delicious meal you could taste the love in. She was the most selfless person. She loved so big and had a passion for sharing her creations with everyone in her life. Perhaps her greatest joy was being a mother to her only child, daughter, Annalie. Kelly and Annalie shared a special bond that was beautiful to witness. Their love and support for each other knew no bounds, that much was certain to their loved ones.

Kelly is awe-inspiring. She coined this motto upon her first diagnosis with cancer: Peace, Love, Cure. She embodied those three words gracefully. No task ever too small, no battle too scary to fight, no love greater than her’s. She was a beautiful woman with an unmatched brave spirit, drive to persevere and strength to embrace anything in the face of evil disease. Those who had the privilege to know her are left with space in their hearts only she could fill, but we are also left with beautiful memories and handcrafted gifts that we will pull out and cherish for the rest of our lives. Her vibrant spirit we all had the privilege to know and love will live on in each of us here on earth.

Kelly is survived by her greatest love, her daughter, Annalie Kelly Gray Ricketts of Charlotte and son-in-law Kristopher Webster; her mother, Opal Gray Smith; her brother Lemuel Alexander Smith III and sister-in-law Donis Smith. Kelly was preceded in death by her father Lemuel Alexander Smith Junior and Annalie’s father, Curtis Dean Ricketts.

Funeral Services will be at 12:00 Noon Friday, January 19, 2024 at Clarkton Presbyterian Church in Clarkton, NC. Following the service, the family wishes to greet all friends in the Fellowship Hall of CPC to share a catered meal and stories honoring the wonderful life of our Kelly Gray. The family welcomes all who wish to join them for the graveside burial service at 11:00 AM at Clarkton Cemetery prior to the funeral service at CPC.

Clarkton Presbyterian Church:  10433 N College Street, Clarkton, NC. 28433
Clarkton Cemetery:  9525-9656 Business 701 Clarkton, NC. 28433

Memorials may be made to Clarkton Presbyterian Church (PO Box 663, Clarkton, NC 28433) and Mayo Clinic (Attn: Mayo Clinic, Department of Development, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN. 55905.) Please include the printable contribution form which can be found via the following link to accompany any donations made to the Mayo Clinic or utilize their online platform using the same link: (

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kelly Gray Smith, please visit our flower store.


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