Kelly’s cause of death has not been made public and it was not immediately known when exactly he died. On July 31, 2021, Keith posted on Twitter, “If y’all could keep my dad in your prayers, he’s in the ER right now with COVID. Waiting to get in contact.”
After Kelly’s death, Keith wrote on GoFundMe, “It comes with a great pain to let you all know today about the loss of an incredible man. Dad’s passing was a surprise to us all and something that we will be feeling the toll of for a very long time. John Kelly lived an amazing life, full of hard work and love. He was never negative and as many of you have experienced personally with him, he was always someone you wanted to be around because he made you feel special and loved. He was a great father, son, brother, and friend to countless people.”
The GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $21,000. Tex and John started their TikTok account in January 2021 with a prank video that went viral, and they quickly racked up more than 2.5 million followers, with their videos amassing more than 50 million views. They dubbed themselves the “best father son duo” shared stories about their lives and also continued their prank videos.
John Kelly, Who Owned a Construction Company & Lived in Eureka, California
Kelly lived in Eureka, California, with his family and was the co-owner of the Humboldt Construction Company, according to Redheaded Blackbelt, a local news website. Tex Keith, Kelly’s son and an actor and entrepreneur, told the news site, “It started in January when I pranked him and he said, ‘Don’t post that!’ But I broke the rules and posted it anyway. We got a lot of great feedback,” Keith said. Almost overnight they had 26,000 followers. I said to my dad, ‘We could do something really special with this,’ and he saw the reactions and said ‘I’m on board to help you with this.’”
Keith told the news site in May 2021, “Dad is a 6’ 6”, 380-pound bear of a man. Dad’s role is that of the serious, quick witted, old-school (guy) responding to a silly son that really only makes it out alive because he’s his son. His responses are always short, funny and a smack to the mouth that shows who’s boss. He is the star of the show. I write the comedy, but it wouldn’t work without him.”
Kelly added, “Sometimes we have that sentimental content that shows the sort of unique relationship and love a son and a father have for each other. He’s affectionately called Papa Grizzly Bear and there’s a way he comes across in the videos, but, in reality, he’s a super kind guy and also the hardest worker I’ve ever met.”
John Kelly Married Tex’s Mother When Tex Was 4 & Tex SaidRed on TikTok, John Taught Him ‘Everything a Great Dad Would’
Keith posted a TikTok video in May 2021 about his relationship with Kelly, saying, “To the guy that came into my life at four years old.” In the captions on the video above a slideshow of photos of the two together, Keith wrote, “Thanks for becoming my dad and best friend. I hope I am for my kids what you are to me.”
A teary-eyed Keith posted another video on June 30, 2021, and wrote, “Let me tell you a little bit about how great my dad is. … He met my mom when I was 4 years old knowing she was a single mom of two. They got married a few years later. Most would have ran away from that commitment to raise two boys that wasn’t theirs biologically. He taught us how to fish, how to ride a bike, the difference between right and wrong and everything a great dad would. He taught me how to read and made sure I was a 4.0 student. He never missed a game. He worked all the time to get money for football camps. He invested in my future despite not having any money. I got to sign to a college because of him.”
Keith added, “My family didn’t have a lot of money so he’d take us to work just to spend time with us. He’d wake up at 4 a.m. and go to bed at 11/12 p.m. He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever met in my life. He’s my best friend. He’s my hero. He’s my Dad.
In a tribute posted on Instagram, Keith wrote:
You’ll always be my hero dad, I love and miss you so much❤️. I know you’re in a better place now, looking over us all. You were an amazing father, son, brother and friend to many. I remember meeting you with my mom when I was four years old and I asked ‘are you my dad?’ You didn’t know what to say but soon enough you became that man in mine and my brother’s lives. I remember the first time I called you dad, I was so scared, your face was so shocked and happy. Dad you taught how me to read, how to throw a ball, to always love and work hard, and there’s so many lessons learned that I’ll carry my head up high with because of you. You worked so incredibly hard so we could have a good life. When times got tough for you and mom, you took Jonny and I to work with you so we could spend more time together. You never once complained and always hid the struggles so we didn’t worry. We got through so much as a family. I’ll always cherish those moments and the hard work because you showed me that as long as we had each other we didn’t need anything else. You always believed in me. I’m proud to say that I’m John Kelly’s son. I’m so proud of the dad you were and the relationship we had, it was something so astonishingly beautiful and special. There was never a conversation that didn’t end with “I love you boy”. I’m so grateful for the life and love you’ve given us. I’m so grateful for the love you’ve given mom and for bringing us into a family that loves us. I’m especially grateful for all the amazing memories we’ve created over the years and for the moments we recorded this year. Your impact was in the millions whether it was making people laugh or seeing other fathers aspire to be someone like you. You’re my best friend dad and as painfully difficult as this is, I know we’ll see each other again and I can’t wait to see that smile of yours, to hug you, to joke around, and to tell you I love you in person again. Dad, it hurts knowing my children won’t get to witness first hand the man you were, but I promise to work hard to be the dad for them that you were for me. I’ll never give up knowing I’ve got you in my corner. I love you dad, I’ll see you in eternity.
Along with Tex Keith, Kelly is survived by his wife, Sabra Kelly, and his other son, Jonny. Tex Keith wrote on the GoFundMe campaign page, “My family and I are absolutely devastated by his passing and while we are trying to still process all of this, life is unapologetically continuing all around us with hospital bills and expenses. Please consider donating if you are able to do so. We are extremely grateful for every donation during this difficult time.”