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Grateful city bids farewell to chief of police

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Fellow officers promise to preserve Kellems' memory through youth camp

By Vince Luecke

CANNELTON - Eulogized by friends and fellow police officers who shared warm memories, smiles and the occasional tear, Cannelton Police Chief Kenny Kellems was eulogized Saturday as a man who gave his all: to his family, his community and his profession.

Kellems, the city's police chief since 2007 and a former sheriff's deputy, died suddenly of an aneurism March 3.

"He wasn't on this earth enough years," Mayor Smokey Graves said during a funeral service held in the city's community center. Family, friends and police officers seated in rows faced Kellems' flag-draped casket, his Harley Davidson motorcycle nearby. Other mourners sat in bleachers as Kellems' rich life was recalled.

Graves and Kellems both served in the military and the city's mayor and Legion post commander recalled Kellems' respect for duty. "He was a great comrade, a great soldier and a great chief of police."

Kellems' fellow police officers talked about a father figure they called "Old Dad," who tried to provide equipment and training for his men, praised them when they did well and asked them to do better when mistakes occurred.

Kellems was also remembered as a community servant, who tried to help people in times of crisis and had an ability to calm tense situations "by his very presence," Dickenson said.

Cannelton Police Department's Camp with a Cop, a program supported wholeheartedly by Kellems, will be renamed in his honor, Dickenson told the crowd.

Bob Campbell, pastor of Agape Community Church in Cannelton, shared memories of working with Kellems at Branchville Correctional Facility and as reserve county deputies.

Those law-enforcement experiences helped fuel Kellems' love of police work and led him to a career of public service. "He loved law enforcement and he loved his community," Campbell said. "Never once in his life did he (promise) something that he didn't do."

Admitting Saturday was a "hard day," Campbell said he and others who loved Kellems would see him again in a life to come. "We'll see him and we'll know him."

More than 50 police officers took part in the service. Most had bands of black cloth across their badges and entered and left the community center solemnly, holding their hats in outstretched left hands.  The long procession of police cars that preceded the hearse carrying Kellems traveled past the city's volunteer firemen and a large U.S. flag held aloft over Indiana 66 by Tell City's ladder truck. The procession turned north on Indiana 237 and arrived  at New Cliff Cemetery, where Cannelton's police chief was laid to rest.