DESTIN — Kent Amos wiped a tear from his eye as he spoke about his mother, Imogene Kelly.
“She was the matriarch of Destin after my grandmother, Mattie Kelly, passed on,” Amos said. “She was very artistic, played the piano, and loved art.”
Amos and his daughter, Kelly, presented a $105,000 check to the Destin History & Fishing Museum on Monday afternoon.
The funds were left to the museum as part of Imogene Kelly’s estate.
Imogene was one of five children born to Mattie and Coleman Lee Kelly, who moved to Destin in 1935 and became one of the city's founding families.
She passed away due to natural causes in March of 2017.
“She was a firecracker, loving and just phenomenal," said Kelly Amos, Imogene’s granddaughter. “When I think of Destin, I think of her. This city holds so much of our family history and it means so much to me that I can be here for her today.”
Kelly inherited the signature traits of her grandmother and great-grandmother; bright red hair and green eyes.
Kent presented the check to Kathy Marler Blue, executive director of the Destin History & Fishing Museum. Chairs were set up in the Destin Fishing Rodeo Gallery and members of the board, as well as Imogene’s lawyer, Bart Fleet, attended the small ceremony of about 10 people.
“We are honored to receive this incredible gift from the estate of Imogene Kelly," said Blue. "It is with sadness in that it came from the passing of such a beautiful, gracious and generous lady. It is with thankfulness that one of her wishes was to honor her family, which was instrumental in the growth of Destin. Our mission is to keep the history of early Destin alive."
Fleet said that this is one of two checks that the museum will receive from the Imogene Kelly estate.
According to city councilman and museum board member Parker Destin, the museum plans to use the funds to start an endowment.
“It’s an unbelievably generous gift,” said Destin. “All of the donations to the museum usually go directly toward operations, but the intent for this gift is to start an endowment and a generational legacy fund.”
Destin said the endowment will help ensure that the museum stays in the city for years to come and that it continues to grow.
People will now be able to make donations to go toward the museum's operations or they can also choose to make long-term gifts to the new endowment fund.