William Ebbin Kelly III (also known as “Bill”), 75, of Amarillo, Texas, died May 13, 2023.
Memorial services will be at 2:00 PM, Saturday, June 3, 2023, at the Boxwell Brothers Ivy Chapel, 2800 Paramount Blvd.
Bill was born June 28, 1947, in Goldsboro, North Carolina to William Ebbin Kelly, Jr. and Olive May Odom. Bill attended high school in Goldsboro North Carolina where he played football and graduated as a North Carolina State Sterling Scholar. He was awarded a full football scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he played from 1965-69 as a wide receiver, running back, and kick returner while majoring in chemistry.
Bill obtained his juris doctorate at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. While pursuing a degree in law, Bill coached football for the Richmond Spiders as a graduate student. After passing the Virginia bar exam, Bill served as an assistant district attorney for the commonwealth of Virginia. Bill married Carolyn Carneal in 1976 and decided to give up his law practice to pursue a football career full time.
Bill relocated to the State of Utah where he was hired as the head football coach at Pleasant Grove High School where he coached for two seasons (1976-78) and taught chemistry. He also worked part-time for the Utah Attorney General writing appellate briefs. In 1978 his team excelled as high school state champions. In 1981, Bill accepted the head coaching job at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. Their first season the team was ranked 4th in the nation, were conference champions, and won the “Wool Bowl” against Cisco Junior College, 51-14. In 1982 Snow College defeated Glendale Community College 41-23 in the Valley of the Sun Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. “Coach Kelly” next moved to Portales, New Mexico as the head football coach for Eastern New Mexico University for two years (1983-84) and won back-to-back championships. Bill’s final stop in his football career was the head football coach for West Texas State University for three years (85-87) where he was named Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the year his first year (1985) and Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year in 1986. Bill’s overall coaching record was 31-20-2.
In 1988 Bill decided to leave football and go back into Law. Bill passed the Texas State Bar and practiced law in Canyon and Amarillo, Texas and was admitted to practice before the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the Supreme Courts of Texas and Virginia while maintaining his license to practice law in the State of Virginia. Bill continued to practice law until his recent illness.
Bill is preceded in death by his parents and sister Diane Fox of Columbia, South Carolina. He is survived by his brother Tim Kelly of New Bern, North Carolina; his four children Michelle L. Kelly and Michael K. Green of Aubrey, Texas; Karena A. Kelly of Houston, Texas; Ryan E. Kelly of Amarillo, Texas; and his four Grandchildren Maci A. Kelly-Wydermyer of Denton, Texas; Benjamin K. Ayers of Portland, Oregon; and Evan M Green and Haydan P. Green of Wylie, Texas.
8 Replies to “William Ebbin Kelly III”
Bill gave me the opportunity to realize my dream of playing college football. I spent 5 seasons with Coach K at Eastern New Mexico and WT! I’d do it all again!! He was hard on me when I needed it and so good to me when I needed that too!!
Save me a spot in the huddle Coach!
“HOLD ON TO TJE ROPE!” Coach K pushed beyond limits I realized I had in me.
See you on the other side, rest easy!
Greyhound Football #54!
Bill was a great man that took a chance on me, gave me a job and taught me so much…. You were loved by many and will be missed so very much!!!!
As a player for Coach Kelly at WT, I don’t think I ever expressed to him at that time what he meant to me. Fortunately, after many decades we were able to reconnect at a football reunion in 2021. I was able to tell him what a positive and tremendous impact he has had on my life. I am grateful to have played football for Coach K. He will be missed. I offer my deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
Enjoyed working with Bill during the time he was at WT and my husband and I were proud to call him a good friend. Praying for all of his family to find peace and comfort.
Bill was a teammate and friend of mine at UNC from 1965-1969. We spent lots of time together before and after practice honing our skills in the passing game, Bill as the receiver and me the QB. His dreams of a high powered passing game never materialized in college as our coaches believed in run first. They told us there are 3 things that happen when you throw the ball and 2 of them are bad so the odds are against passing. Bill had to wait until he was the head coach to put into practice his dream of throwing the football. As a head coach Bill did it “his way” and had tremendous success. Bill was a good student and very bright as was evidenced by his law degree and his law practice. Bill remained a part of the 1966-1968 UNC Junction Boys group during these years and would come back to Chapel Hill when he could. He’ll be missed by all of his ” J Boys teammates” and never forgotten. God rest his soul.
My condolences to his family, his friends, and his amazing legal assistant, Edana Harvey
Bill was a great guy with a big heart for helping others, and always with a smile. His sharp mind, sense of humor, and friendship will be missed. Much sympathy to those he’s left behind.
Coach Kelly He was a Coach that made you dig deep to discover the potential to be better not just at Football but life. Was never my favorite guy, but he made me want it made me work for it and made me earn it which helped me be the man i am today. Rest in Peace Coach we got the “ Rope” Motivate!