Stephen Kelly

Stephen Kelly

Beloved father, husband and friend Stephen Patrick Kelly celebrated a final St. Patrick’s Day and died peacefully as the sun rose the following morning, March 18, 2021, surrounded by his wife Debra and their children Alex, Lauren and Caroline.

Born on Dec. 20, 1950, in Mineola, N.Y., to Richard “Dick” Kelly and Barbara Kelly, née Nilsson, Steve spent his youth growing up on Spring Creek in Husum, Wash., graduating from Columbia High School in 1969. After working tugboats on the Columbia River and earning a business degree from Washington State University, he began a career in marine transportation that spanned three decades.

Work took Steve up and down the Pacific Coast and into the American Midwest. After managing tankers for Standard Oil at the Port of Long Beach, Calif., he relocated to Valdez, Alaska to establish the company’s agency for ships that carried crude oil from the terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. He served there as Port Manager for S.P.C. Shipping Company. He was tasked with coordinating a study of threats posed by icebergs to vessels in Prince William Sound. Moving to Standard Oil’s Ohio headquarters, he became the company’s chief government liaison and expert on federal law enacted after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Eager for another assignment in Alaska, Steve joined Alyeska Pipeline Service Company as Crisis Management Coordinator and organized emergency response programs for various potential emergencies and/or disasters. Finally, he returned to his boyhood home in Husum and finished his career as Vice President of Rice, Unruh, Reynolds, the oldest shipping agency in the United States.

Apart from work, Steve dedicated many hours of service as a volunteer. He was President of both the Propeller Club and the Valdez Chamber of Commerce. He was active in the Lions Club and the Knights of Columbus. He rarely missed mass at St. Joseph’s Church in White Salmon, Wash. He enjoyed sailing, blues and rock music, and plenty of space on the dance floor. He took great pleasure in hiking and the outdoors, especially the Goat Rocks Wilderness area north of Mount Adams. He was an avid storyteller and jokester, loved for his warmth, generosity and wicked sense of humor. He treated every day as a special occasion and made holidays magical.

Steve was preceded in death by his parents, brother, David, and nephew, Kable. He is survived by Debra Reed, their son Alex, and twin daughters Lauren and Caroline of Seattle. Also surviving are his sister Christine Perry, brother Tim Kelly, former wife Joanne Barr, son Blair, daughter-in-law Erin Doran, grandson Connor, and sons-in-law Casey Funke and Morrie Low.

After an 18-year struggle with Parkinson’s disease, Steve donated his brain to Columbia University’s neuroscience program for research into Parkinson’s disease, Lyme disease, and Lewy Body Dementia. A celebration of his life will take place in White Salmon on June 12.

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My condolences go out to all of Steve's family & friends🙏 I remember Steve when I was a child growing up in Valdez. He was always friendly & I remember he would say "well hello sweet lil girl of Joel & Marsha's (Williams), how arw you doing today? Your Daddy sure is a great man & your mom has her hands full with you!" We'd always laugh at that cuz everyone knew I was a Daddy's girl & my mom would always ask Steve if he'd like to gain another kid?! Hehe 😊 Steve will always have a place in my heart as a man of wisdom that showed respect to many. I will Keep His Smile In My Heart right there with both of my parents! I know they all will watch over us together now! Many times at the terminal I remember running into him at the guard shack as he was either coming to or leaving work. He was such a nice guy & he'd tell me my belly looked bigger each day! He was right I was pregnant with my first child & Steve had a way of making me feel proud when he'd raz me about it!! He had a special way of showing me it was ok that my belly kept getting bigger & bigger! I will always look up & say hi to him just like I do my parents!🙏💜🌺 R.I.P. Steve Love & Respect to you Mr. Kelly🙏💜🙏😥

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