Mineola sports legend dies


Former Mineola High School sports star John Hobbs “Bubba” Kelley has died.

Kelley passed away Jan. 13, 2020 in Houston.

He was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

According to the hall’s biography, Kelley had an outstanding career for Mineola in the late 1940s. As a 16-year-old senior he rushed for 1,461 yards on only 144 carries (10.1 average) and was named to the all-state team after leading the Yellowjackets to the 1A quarterfinals, where they lost to Garland on penetrations of the 20-yardline. Kelley almost single-handedly outscored Mineola’s competition, which tallied 139 to his 137. He was selected to play in the 1950 East Texas All-Star Game in Tyler and earned the Outstanding Back Award when he rushed for 99 yards and scored the winning touchdown in the North’s 7-6 victory. Kelley was also an accomplished boxer and was the first person to compete in the Texas Golden Gloves Tournament in three weight classifications. Kelley’s promising football career at SMU ended prematurely when he suffered a severe back injury. He has served as a board member for the Houston Touchdown Club for almost 40 years.

Kelley was born Feb. 13, 1933 to John and Sarah Virginia Bruce Kelley in Mineola. He graduated from Mineola High School and attended SMU on a football scholarship. He graduated from Baylor in 1954 with a B.A. degree in business.

John married Emojean Baker of Woodville in 1956. The couple lived in Germany for two years during John’s service in the Army. The couple traveled Europe extensively during this time. They returned to Houston in 1957 and had three children: Karmen, Shaun and Shannon, and four granddaughters, Shayla, McKenna, Skyla and Emma. John owned a Firestone Tire store for many years before being elected city councilman for District G in Houston where he served two terms.

Funeral service was held on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 at 2 p.m. in the chapel of Forest Park Westheimer.