Phyllis O’Kelley Blevins, age 81 of Brentwood, TN passed away February 25, 2023. She was born in Ripley, MS to Kenneth C. O’Kelley and Sashie Nunnally O’Kelley. In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her husband, Robert Donald Blevins. She is survived by her daughter, Kelley Blevins (John) Baker; son, Kenneth Donald (Pam) Blevins; grandchildren, Elizabeth O’Kelley Baker, John “Jack” H. Baker IV, SaraGrace “Gracie” Rose Baker, Kadie O’Kelley Blevins, Jacob Hudson Blevins; and coming soon, great granddaughter, Isabella Ann Lawson. A graveside service for Phyllis will be held at 2:00PM Saturday, March 18, 2023, at Williamson Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be from 1:00PM to 2:00PM at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home. Memorials can be made to Williamson County Animal Shelter. If you choose to send flowers the family requests daisies or pink flowers which were her favorites.
Phyllis was the Director of the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors for 23 years from 1981 to 2004, and Director of the Home Improvement Commission from 1989 to 2004. She was dynamic, vivacious, and big-hearted. She cared deeply for those she worked with and their families. Her office and home were full of photographs of not only her children and grandchildren but her coworkers’ and friends’ children. Phyllis was trailblazer in the construction industry. While serving as Executive Director of the Contractor’s Board, she oversaw the implementation of statewide certification of contractors so that contractors no longer had to test from county to county if they held a state contractor’s license. Phyllis brought statewide contractor inspectors on board which helped resolve the majority of complaints filed with the Board alleviating the contractor and consumer from having to go to court. Another highlight of her career was getting testing for contractors implemented in Tennessee, whereas before all you needed was a good financial statement and you were a contractor. This resulted in Tennessee achieving reciprocation with sister states and was a big boom for the construction industry in Tennessee. Phyllis served as president of the National Association of State Contractor Licensing Agencies (NASCLA) in 1986 and served on their Board of Directors. Phyllis was instrumental in passage of numerous legislative bills relative to the construction industry. Those who knew Phyllis, know that she never met a stranger and treated everyone as equals, whether you were a young struggling contractor or a wealthy powerful politician. She always said, “everyone puts their pants on the same way, one leg at a time.” This is why she was so successful in her life and career (serving under 4 governors ) because she always treated people the way she wanted to be treated and with respect.
Phyllis was an amazing Mother, Grammie (Mimi to Gracie) and friend. She lived every moment of her life for her children and grandchildren and desperately wanted to live long enough to meet her first great-grandchild. As soon she retired, she did not take time for herself but instead took time to travel to North Carolina to visit her son and his children as often as she could. When not visiting Kadie and Hudson, she would drive from Brentwood to Murfreesboro every day to pick-up her daughter’s children from school and take them to afterschool activities providing Elizabeth and Jack with opportunities that they otherwise would not have gotten to experience but for their Grammie. When Gracie was born, her “Mimi” ensured that Gracie never saw the inside of a daycare and again drove from Brentwood to Murfreesboro every day to care for Gracie until the day Gracie started school.
Phyllis taught us all devotion to family and friends, to approach life with enthusiasm, common sense, and to treat others with respect and the way that you want to be treated. She will be greatly missed!