Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Kelly remembered for good will, humor


October 14, 2010

Dan Kelly says his wife Barbara never lost her kindness and humor despite being ill and nearly housebound many years. "She was pretty fun loving, real gentle and a generous woman," he said.

She died of respiratory failure Sept. 25 at Mount Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka. The couple moved to Haines from Juneau about 10 years ago after spending years in mining camps in Idaho, Montana and Alaska. "Barbara liked Alaska and she loved Haines," Kelly said. She enjoyed puzzles and watching movies, especially romantic comedies.

Once a week she went to the Bamboo Room for coffee with her Eagle’s Nest neighbor Cindy Swearingen and take a drive through town. "She liked to go to the ocean and sit by the water and watch the waves and the people boating, " Swearingen said this week. "She had a wicked sense of humor and she loved Dan, she loved him like crazy. He’d always remind her to take her pills and she called him her mother hen."

Before she was too ill to work, Kelly was a housekeeper at the Captain’s Choice Motel. Manager Cheryl Katzeek said the short brunette with a raspy voice made everyone laugh when she came up to the motel front desk counter, which was as tall as she was. "She’d tuck her hands under her chin and rest her head on it like she was sleeping when she was done for the day," Katzeek said. "Barbara was happy when she was here."

Kelly was born Sept. 4, 1945 to Grace and Harry Jacobsen, a trucker and housewife, in Park Rapids, Minn. She grew up there and after graduating from high school went to work as a waitress and cook. "That’s about all she ever did, and she cooked in a lot of mining camps after we got married," Dan Kelly said.

She met Kelly after coming to Juneau in the 1960s and they married there November 22, 1969. She worked at the old Imperial Café before Dan embarked on a series of mining jobs around the West. They had two sons. "Barbara raised the boys and got along with everybody in some tough places. She did it all, " Kelly said. They retired to Haines, but her health kept activities and socializing to a minimum, he said. "She was sick for years and there were times when she couldn’t go out at all."

Cindy Swearingen admired her friend’s good will in the face of adversity. "She loved my grandbaby. She couldn’t hold him, but she loved to see him laugh and jump."

In addition to Dan and sons Patrick of Boise and Benny of Manchester, New Hampshire, and one granddaughter, Barbara Kelly leaves her chocolate lab Poncho. "He’s exuberant, but when she wasn’t feeling well he’d sense it, and be calm," Swearingen said.

Kelly’s ashes were scattered over Lynn Canal.