Kelly was born in Tacoma on Oct 12, 1948. Perhaps it was her first month fighting for life in an incubator that set her strong character. The second of five children, Kelly attended St Pat’s and Holy Cross grade schools and later Aquinas Academy. She received an AA degree from Tacoma Community College.
Kelly was always independent and loved the outdoors. As a child she spent many summer days biking at Pt Defiance Park with her twin sister Kerry. As a teen Kelly backpacked both the Olympic Coast and The Enchanted Valley. Athletic, she taught youth swimming for many years both in Tacoma and on the Peninsula. Her baseball powers were legendary, hitting homeruns was her specialty.
Even in her youth, Kelly stood out, bringing her bugle -and playing it- at Bellarmine games. Kelly made friends easily. She was loyal to them and they remained loyal to her. Her humor was unique, and she displayed it frequently on her voice mail greetings which she changed daily. Callers were often disappointed when she picked up the phone, because we wanted to hear her recording-of-the-day first.
She took being Irish seriously, frequently wore Kelly green, had elaborate schemes to catch a leprechaun on St Patrick’s Day, and even named her dog Shamrock, “Rocky” for short. For many years you could see the familiar painted green line down the middle K Street in Tacoma, one of Kelly’s many mischievous adventurous. Irish to the end, it was fitting that Kelly’s last breath was taken as her granddaughter Quinn finished reading to her an Irish Blessing.
Kelly took a strong interest in civic affairs, even making a run for Tacoma City council. Despite not winning her own election, Kelly worked behind the scenes in support of other candidates and ensuring Tacoma stayed true to its citizens. She was instrumental in passing ordinances for trigger locks on guns. Fire safety was exceptionally important to Kelly due to her years in multi-housing industry and it landed her an interview on ABC’s 20/20 after an extravagant tour of New York at ABC’s expense.
Kelly, a multi-housing community manager for almost 50 years, had very loyal residents, appreciative of her efforts in securing community gardens, bike helmets for the kids, and a host of other kindnesses. She had many residents who would move into her community again because she was there.
Kelly donated to many charities; Children’s Hospital, Humane Society were a few, but she loved buying coffee for other patrons and purchasing groceries for someone behind her in the checkout line. Her clerks knew her well, she only had to nod and they would add it to her bill. Her only response was “pay-it-forward”, do something for someone else when you can.
She enjoyed time with her grandchildren, especially their trips together to Disneyland. She had many green pairs of ears.
Kelly is survived by Chanon Luke, grandchildren Quinn (Zackie), Zane, Willow, Ayla and Harlee Luke, a sister Kerry, a brother Kacey, a niece Heather, and nephews, Ben and Mason. Kelly was pre-deceased by her parents Mason and Bunny Halligan and brothers Pat and Mike.
A Celebration of Life is planned for Saturday, May 25th @ 12pm – 4pm at the Pagoda at Pt. Defiance Park.
Remembrances in Kelly’s name can be made to The Humane Society of Tacoma and Pierce County, St. Jude’s Hospital or Children’s Hospital.
Lastly, in honor of Kelly, “Make this day the best day e-v-e-r.”