Investigators say Kelly pulled into a convenience store to pick up his wife Grace when he saw her being robbed at gunpoint. They say he grabbed a shotgun from his car and fired through the door. One suspect was hit, while the others fled. In the shootout, Kelly was hit twice and died Friday from his wounds.
Investigators caught and jailed four suspects shortly after the incident.
On Monday evening, Kelly's family and friends gathered at Bolles Funeral Home in Southern Pines swapping stories, comforting each other and remembering Kelly.
"He would never condemn you what you were doing wrong," Ken Tyndall said. "Even if it was totally backwards, he would just say let me show you a better way of doing this."
Tyndall says Kelly taught him a lot about horses and life during their more than 30 years of friendship.
"Not surprised a bit, because of who he was, the character of who he was," Tyndall said. "You go back and think and say what if he would have just stood there? But he wasn't that kind of fellow, he would not have stood there."
Friends and family say he never met a stranger.
"He was truly a great American," Tyndall said. "You don't find people like that anymore that truly bend down and help people. We will miss him, but we know in our hearts he has gone to a better place."
Funeral services for Kelly will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Yates-Thagard Baptist Church.