Lt. Col. Ralph Christy “Chris” Kellum, USAF Ret., 72, Kokomo, and a former resident of Fort Wayne and Hatteras, N.C., died at 7:42 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, at St. Joseph Hospital.
He was born in Kokomo on Sept. 28, 1940, the son of Ralph Claude and Doris (Christy) Kellum. He married Mitzi Oden Nov. 24, 1965, and she preceded him in death May 28, 2009. He married Joan Bowman April 30, 2011, at First Congregational Christian Church, and she survives.
Chris was a 1958 graduate of Kokomo High School. He earned his Eagle Scout Award during his high school years. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, graduating in 1976. He was an Air Force veteran, having served 23 years in the service, retiring as a Lt. Col. He loved flying and was a fighter pilot who flew the F-100. During the Vietnam War, he was a member of the Elite Flying Squad known as the Mistys. Following his military career, he resided in Fort Wayne and worked at ITT for 14 years until July 1997 when he moved to Hatteras, N.C.
His memberships included the Hatteras United Methodist Church of Hatteras, N.C., the Early Risers Rotary Club of Kokomo, The Thursday Night Bridge Club and The Kokomo Country Club where he was serving as secretary at the time of his death. He was also a member of the Purdue Alumni Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi. Wherever Chris lived, he made an effort to be actively involved in the community.
He was an avid reader, a man of faith and a student of the Bible. He was best known as “A lover, a fighter, a ballroom dancer, and a Sunday night drinker, retired.”
Surviving in addition to his wife Joanie of Kokomo are two daughters, Paula Hughes (Christopher) and Christy Kellum; one grandson, Beale Kellum Hughes, all of Fort Wayne; one brother, Stewart Kellum (Verna) of Kernersville, N.C.; one sister, Kay Puckett of Longsville, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother-in-law, Frank Puckett.
A Celebration of Life Service will be at 11 a.m. Friday at First Congregational Christian Church, 505 W. Mulberry St., Kokomo, with Pastor Jon Tice officiating. Military honors will follow the service, provided by the U.S. Air Force and the VFW Military Rites Team. Private burial will take place at a later time. The family will receive friends from 4 until 6 p.m. Thursday at Shirley & Stout Funeral Home & Crematory, Lincoln Road Chapel, 1315 W. Lincoln Rd, Kokomo. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the First Congregational Christian Church and/or the Hatteras United Methodist Church, 57665 N.C. Road 12, Hatteras, N.C. 27943, and/or the Wounded Warrior Project. Online condolences may be submitted at www.shirleyandstout.com.