Judge R. Keith Kelly is a native of Woodruff, South Carolina. Born 5 June 1958 to Ralph D. and Louise C. Kelly, he is the oldest of three children born to the couple. He attended public schools in Spartanburg County and graduated Woodruff High School and R.D. Anderson Vocational School in 1976. He attended the University of South Carolina, Spartanburg and was cross enrolled in the US Army ROTC program at Wofford College where he served as the Battalion Commander. Graduating in 1981, he accepted his US Army Regular Army commission as an officer and reported to active duty. Leaving the military to attend law school, he was Honorably Discharged from Active Duty in 1984 and immediately accepted a US Army Reserve commission where he served as a Company Commander and later on Battalion staff before being Honorably Discharged.
He received his Juris Doctorate Degree from the Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University in 1987 and returned to Spartanburg County to practice law. Immediately preceding election to the bench, he was a partner at Lister, Flynn & Kelly, PA., Spartanburg, SC. He is admitted to practice in all South Carolina State Courts, US District Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, he served on the SC House Judiciary Committee and was Chairman of its Criminal Laws subcommittee. He is a former member of the Spartanburg County Delegation where he served as the Vice Chairman and a former member of the Sentencing Reform Oversight Committee.
Active in his community, he is a member of several organizations including the Woodruff Rotary Club and the Spartanburg Pilots Association.
Judge Kelly resides in Spartanburg County with his wife Cindy. The couple has three adult daughters and one son-in-law.