Eugene “Gene” Lee Kelley


Eugene “Gene” Lee Kelley, a life-long resident of North Baltimore passed away on January 9th 2024. He was born at 217 S. Tarr St. on Nov. 2 1932, in the home of his parents Charles Burnet “CB” Kelley & Vera M. McGarvey Kelley, and was their eldest son.

Gene graduated from North Baltimore High School in 1950 & Tiffin Business University in 1952. He then enrolled at General Motors Dealer/Business Institute in Flint Michigan. At the end of his first year, he decided to volunteer during the Korean conflict with the United States Army. After basic training & while awaiting deployment, he was pulled from his unit & instead was sent to Fontainebleau, France where he served the remainder of his service as a Company Clerk. After an honorable discharge, he returned home to North Baltimore.

On June 5th 1955, Gene married Donna Lou Prosser at St Luke’s Lutheran Church. They were very fortunate to spend 68 wonderful & happy years together.

As for a life occupation, Gene had an opportunity to choose between working on the family farms or working in the auto business. Gene grew up driving tractor, working in the fields, raising cattle and spending his time off at the auto dealership. He liked the farm but also loved the thrill of an auto sale.

Gene decided to join his father in the auto business-The CB Kelley Co. who sold Chevrolet & Buick automobiles. His father also had a contract to sell John Deere farm machinery. General Motors was not impressed by this and told CB that they may not renew his auto contract because they felt the auto business was more of a hobby than a business since he was heavily invested in farming.

Since Gene was young with new & fresh ideas, he began to breathe some new life into the auto selling process. Business began to pick up and in 1960 General Motors was so impressed with Gene’s business ability & new selling process, they asked him to sign a contract as the next General Motors franchised dealer replacing his father. In 1964 Genes father passed away and Gene immediately became the sole dealer, but kept the name CB Kelley Co. in honor of his father’s sudden passing. The business continued to grow & prosper. Gene not only sold auto’s but operated his own finance business and also offered his customers auto insurance. Gene decided now it was time to give the old building a fresh modern look. An all new glass front designed by Gene was put in place. The service area was enlarged & a paint & body shop added & more display lots were purchased. It was then that his younger brother, Bob Kelley became a business partner. By 1982 Gene decided as the sole dealer to close the doors of the dealership & sell out.

Over the years starting in 1958 Gene & his wife had invested in several acres of farm ground so Gene returned to farming which has always been the Kelley family tradition.

During his years as an auto dealer he was a member of the National Auto Dealers Association, The Ohio Auto Dealers Association and served 2 terms on the General Motors Ohio Auto District Zoning Board & was president of the Mini District Auto Dealers Association & received numerous sales awards.

Locally, Gene also served the town he loved. He was a past president of the NB Chamber of Commerce, past president of NB Rotary Club, past president of the Lions Club. Gene was also a member of the Masonic Lodge and the local American Legion. When North Baltimore had no doctor & was in much need of one, Gene headed a committee & was successful in securing not only a doctor, but a building for him to start his practice.

Gene served as the assistant building chairman when St Luke’s Lutheran Church built their new Sunday school rooms & was also the building chairman for the new St Luke’s Lutheran Church as it stands today, he was also a Sunday School Superintendent & served on the Church Council.

Gene was preceded in death by his sister, Martha Patterson and is survived by his loving wife Donna, as well as his daughters, Terry Brecheisen (William), Linda Gerdeman (Gregory), 7 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren which were his pride and joy. Gene is also survived by his brother Robert.

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks and gratitude to Bridge Palliative and Hospice of Findlay and Home Instead for the exceptional care shown to Gene and our family.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Gene’s name may be made to the American Legion Post 539, North Baltimore EMS or a charity of the donor’s choice.

The family has requested that funeral services be private. Arrangements are entrusted to Smith-Crates Funeral Home, North Baltimore.

Online condolences may be expressed at

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