“His legacy lives on”: Clarence R. Kelly’s dream community center is finally here

His legacy continues to grow as the new center better serves both children and adults.
Published: Jun. 19, 2022 at 11:58 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The new Clarence R. Kelly Community Center has officially re-opened.

“He always said one day he’s going to get a new building...one day it’s going to come,” said Charlene Kelly, Clarence’s wife.

Clarence Kelly was the director of the northeast recreation center for 35 years and family members say he was a pillar of the community.

In 2011, he passed away at the age of 56 and the following year, the recreation center was renamed in his honor.

“I know he would’ve loved to see this. He’s been advocating for the center to be redone and for certain changes to be made for the safety of the kids because that was his main concern...the kids. It didn’t matter how old they were, they were still his kids,” said Carla Stokes, Clarence’s daughter.

His legacy continues to grow as the new community center better serves both children and adults.

We have cooking activities here, we have programs for the children such as after school programs and we have programs for adult activities in the evening time,” said Charlene.

The grand re-opening of the community center is also serving as the finale to The City of Gainesville’s month long Journey to Juneteenth.

“Juneteenth is a day where we get together and we all work for the same thing. We wanted the same thing and we were trying to build together and make something happen,” Charlene said.

Now his dream of creating a safe place for all has become reality.

“His legacy will go on and on forever cause we’re going to do just what we wanted us to do, be here and make things safe for these children,” said Charlene.

That’s what residents in the Duval neighborhood intend to do.

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