Obituary: Mary Kelley
June 25, 1958 – March 24, 2022
Mary Elizabeth Spidahl Kelley, 63, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, died on Thursday, March 24, 2022 in a rafting accident in the Grand Canyon.
Mary Spidahl was born June 25, 1958 in Fergus Falls, Minnesota to Marie Elizabeth (Liz) Spidahl, née Johnson, and Walter Bernard Spidahl.
Mary lived in Fergus Falls and St. Paul, Minnesota in early childhood. The family moved to Tacoma, Washington when she was ten years old and moved back to Fergus Falls during her high school years. Mary graduated from Fergus Falls High School in 1976, where she played on one of the first girls’ hockey teams in Minnesota. After high school, Mary moved to Bellingham, Washington. While on a white-water rafting trip, she heard about Steamboat Springs and made the town her life-long home in 1980.
Mary and Randy Kelley were married on October 24, 1987 in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. White-water rafting has always been a part of the family’s life. Mary enjoyed many rafting trips with her family, including numerous trips in Idaho, and four trips in the Grand Canyon. Mary and Randy instilled the love of white water in Ryan and David, who are skilled river men.
She was well-connected in the community, working in the restaurant business for years. She worked at Steamboat Ski Resorts, first as night baker and then in the ticket office. She was well-known as “the lunch lady” in the elementary schools and worked in food service at Colorado Mountain College, where she retired as front desk receptionist.
To know Mary was to love Mary. She was grounded, yet tread with a light step, living life on her own terms. She practiced a positive outlook, bringing peace and light-heartedness to her relationships. She was practical and considerate of others. In packing for river trips, she would always bring extras, in case someone on the trip forgot essential items. Wherever she was, she created a welcoming environment for everyone around her. On river trips, she not only prepared excellent food but created a beautiful setting for the community meals with tablecloths and special lighting. She spoke difficult truths with clarity and kindness. She was filled with gratitude for Randy, Ryan, David, the fulfilling lives they created together, shared music, their community, and the natural beauty around her.
Mary was preceded in death by her mother, Elizabeth Spidahl, and her father, Walter Spidahl.
Mary is survived by her husband Randy Kelley, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and sons Ryan Kelley, Steamboat Springs, and David Kelley, Bozeman, Montana; siblings John (Naomi) Stennes-Spidahl, Christy (Kim) Parsons, David (Cindy) Spidahl, Oscar Spidahl; and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 23, Howelsen Ski Area, Steamboat Springs, 4- 8 p.m. In Mary’s honor, we want to minimize waste. Please bring your fork, cup, beverage and a dessert to share. There will be coffee and a dinner buffet on location.
Gifts in memory of Mary may be sent to International Rescue Committee and Environment Colorado.
Special thanks to Carol Ives and Marilyn and Dr. Mark McCaulley, who were instrumental in helping Randy get through the first week after Mary’s death.
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