On Sunday, December 22, 2019, Kelly Marie Elliott at the age of 30, died quietly with her loving husband by her side at their Rockville, MD home.
She was born March 26, 1989, in Lancaster, PA to Nelson and Joanne (nee Shank) Heagy. She was the beloved wife of Mark Nelson Elliott of Rockville, MD, sister of Christine Heagy of Annville, PA, Greta (Joel) Bomgardner of Annville, PA and Kimberly Heagy of West Chester, PA. She also leaves behind her maternal grandparents, David and Janice Shank and was preceded by her paternal grandparents Henry and Dorothy Heagy.
Kelly was raised on her family’s farm in Pennsylvania, which instilled in her a love of the outdoors, a strong work ethic, and a deep affection for her family and rural heritage. Music was an integral part of her life, as a member of her high school choir, annual musical, concert band and marching band. After graduating from Annville-Cleona Secondary School in 2007, Kelly decided to use her gifts and pursue music as her career. She studied music education at Pennsylvania State University, graduating with honors in 2011. She was a member of the prestigious Blue Band for two years and enjoyed cheering on her team. Her honors college capstone project studied the history of hymn-singing in the Pennsylvania-German churches of her upbringing, tying together her love of her local heritage, music, and her personal faith in God.
In 2012 she moved to Maryland to take a job as an elementary music teacher with Prince George's County Public Schools. She developed a love for her students and strong desire to see them succeed. Embracing new diversity, she joined a community gospel choir (where she provided the diversity) and learned to better connect with different communities and many of her students. Other musical activities included being an accompanist and assistant director for the Prince George’s County Elementary Honor Chorus, and a member of the Maryland Community Band.
A woman of deep Christian faith, Kelly was a part of several church communities including North Annville Bible Church, Alliance Christian Fellowship at Penn State, Palmyra Grace Church, McLean Bible Church in Silver Spring, and since 2014, Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD. She became involved in the music ministry, playing piano for the children’s choir and the French horn in the orchestra (where she met her husband). She became a member of the Sanctuary Choir, serving as president since the summer of 2019.
In January of 2016, Kelly was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a very rare form of bone cancer. This turned her life completely on its head and she and Mark accelerated their wedding plans to get married in February before she began chemotherapy treatments. The prognosis was not good, but she did not lose hope and fought hard, trusting that God would be with her and give her strength to face the next day.
Over the next few years she initially recovered well and resumed teaching full-time. There was always significant risk of recurrence, but her approach was always to strive for a normal life, and being at work with her students was a huge part of that. Her work ethic and desire to remain productive during treatment led her to hone her skills of quilting and sewing. Many friends and family will have Kelly’s beautiful handiwork by which to remember her.
When the cancer came back in fall of 2017, it was considered incurable, but the time horizon was uncertain. She requested a chemo schedule which allowed her to resume working part-time, volunteer, and even continue her studies as she pursued a master’s degree in music education. Someone meeting Kelly would never have known that she was living with such a heavy burden. She handled herself with incredible grace, courage, and faith that was an inspiration to so many. Although a quiet individual, her tragic circumstances gave her a remarkable platform to touch so many lives through her example.
A funeral service will be held at 9:30 am, Saturday, December 28, 2019, at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 5500 River Road, Bethesda, MD 20816 with a reception to follow. At 3:30 pm there will be a graveside service at the Bellegrove United Methodist Church Cemetery, 1530 N. Route 934, Annville, PA 17003.
On Sunday, December 29, 2019, at 2:00 pm her hometown family welcomes all to a memorial service at the Annville United Christian Church, 245 W Church St, Annville, PA 17003
Memorial contributions may be made to honor her memory to Hope Connections for Cancer Support: (https://hopeconnectionsforcancer.org/ways-to-give) where Kelly attended a support group near her home or First Descents: (https://firstdescents.org/). Kelly took advantage of their adventure trips for young adults with cancer and had a wonderful time kayaking in the Pacific Northwest last summer.