SHALLOTTE, NC (WWAY) -- Flags waved at half staff today in Shallotte. The town lost its mayor yesterday evening. Donald "buddy" Kelly was in his second year as mayor, when he died.
"A friend. A mentor. Someone that, although was not born and raised in Shallotte, he's lived for the last 30 years in Shallotte and loves Shallotte dearly," Mayor Pro-Tem Alan Lewis said.
Friends of the 64 year old say his health was declining for months.
Kelly served on Shallotte's planning board for years and was elected to the Board of Aldermen in 1999. He took office as mayor in December of 2009.
"He was very proud of being the Mayor of Shallotte, and before that a city councilman of Shallotte, because he wanted to see Shallotte grow," friend Audie Lowrimore said.
Lowrimore was a close friend of Mayor Kelly and shared a passion for helping the elderly. Together, they helped deliver Meals-on-Wheels to senior citizens all over the Cape Fear area. Lowrimore says Kelly was devoted to helping everyone in Shallotte, but saw a special need for assisting the elderly.
"Meals on Wheels people are a lot of times their contact with the outside world," Lowrimore said.
Friends of the mayor say he was very involved in serving his community and never seemed to meet a stranger.
Tillie Bryant is the cook at T.K.'s Diner in Shallotte. She says Kelly would come into T.K.'s every morning for breakfast and saw him every day for nearly 12 years.
"His smile and his talk. I can see it," she said. "I keep seeing it all the time. I can see Mr. Buddy's face. We're going to miss him a lot."
Kelly leaves behind a wife and daughter.
A visitation is scheduled for tomorrow at the Brunswick Funeral Home at 6 p.m. Kelly's funeral is at the Calvary Baptist Church in Shallotte Saturday at 3 p.m.