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Dr. James William Kelley


1941 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Dr.  James William Kelley Obituary
Dr. James William Kelley

The Greatest Gift is Love

Dr. James William Kelley passed away in Seattle, Washington on Friday, June 1, 2018 after a long and valiant struggle with Lewy Body Dementia. He was born on September 12, 1941 in Astoria, Oregon to James Winfield Kelley and Emily Mae Kenneth Kelley. He leaves behind his wife, Ruth Laurene Christensen Kelley (Ruth / Cris), his son David William Kelley, daughter-in-law Melissa Joy Kelley, granddaughter Lucia Beatrice Kelley - all of Seattle, and a brother, Douglas Dean Kelley of Denver, Colorado.

Jim enjoyed his childhood in Kelso, Washington. He was very active in The Boy Scouts, becoming an Eagle Scout. Upon graduation from Kelso High School in 1959, he attended Oregon State University where he served as President of Acacia Fraternity. He graduated in 1964. He then went to Denver, Colorado, earning his Master of Arts degree in 1966 and Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1970 from the University of Denver. He was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, the international honor society. He then spent the entirety of his professional career in higher education, helping countless students find their success.

In 1970 he and Ruth/Cris were married in The Congregational Church of Plainville UCC in Plainville, Connecticut, Ruth/Cris' hometown. They lived for 2 years in Fort Collins, Colorado where Jim worked with Dr. Stanley Ahmann at Colorado State University on a grant from the U.S. Office of Education. In 1972 they moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota where Jim served as Director of Urban Studies at St. Cloud State University until 1982. In these years he helped many students successfully become city managers and planners. He also published articles and book chapters on Urban Studies as well as City Planning and Management. He also was active as a member of Peace United Church of Christ in St. Cloud, serving as a Church School Superintendent, committee member, and providing an occasional sermon.

In the fall of 1982 Jim was named Dean of University College at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. He remained at WSU for twenty-five years, serving in several positions, during which time he published numerous articles in the area of student success. He retired in 2007 as Associate Vice President of Student Affairs. He was very active at University Congregational Church serving as moderator, providing youth confirmation studies, and leading the first adult Sunday school program.

In 2007 Jim and Ruth / Cris moved to Seattle to be close to immediate family after the birth of granddaughter Lucia. Jim and Lucia had a uniquely wonderful relationship built on sandboxes and water boxes, looking at family photos, walking to the Ballard locks and nearby parks, playing the piano and playing store.

In 2010 Jim began showing symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia. The symptoms slowly increased until Jim was unable to stand, speak or grasp anything with his hands. However, he remained present and able to attend until the very end and never lost his ability show Agape love to everyone who visited.

As Jim once said, "I believe I was put on this earth to help human beings accomplish what they want to accomplish."

Memorial Services for Dr. Kelley

have been scheduled in Seattle, WA on Saturday, June 16, 2pm at

Plymouth Congregational Church

UCC, 1217 6th Ave., and in

Wichita, KS on Saturday, July 14,

10am @ University Congregational

Church, 9209 E. 29th St.

In lieu of flowers, Jim wanted friends and family to support causes important to him:

The Ballard Food Bank: http://www.ballardfoodbank.org/

5130 Leary Ave. NW Seattle, 98107

Chamber Music at the Barn: http://www.cmatb.org/ 4055 N Tyler Rd. Maize, KS 67101
Published in The Seattle Times on June 10, 2018
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