Harriet Kelly was always surrounded by people who loved her. She valued relationships and never passed up an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. Her social life was very busy even until the day she died. Harriet passed on Jan. 10, 2017, at the age of 95. She believed that the key to her longevity was “surrounding yourself with people younger than you.” This way of living kept Harriet sharp, full of wit, up on the latest trends, and always laughing.
Harriet Howe Kelly was born June 21, 1921, to the late Robert E. Lee and Marion Warren Howe of Scarsdale, New York. She attended Scarsdale Schools and Edgewood Park Junior College. Shortly after marrying the late George J.M. Kelly in 1942, they moved to Denver temporarily where George was stationed during the war. Despite their short time there, they both fell in love with Denver and its sense of excitement and freedom. After the war years in 1946, they left Topeka, Kansas (George’s second post), and moved to Denver permanently. In 1952, and for many years, the family would spend summers and weekends at a family home on Smuggler Street, and subsequently at a home on Meadows Road in Aspen. Harriet’s late husband, George, had graduated from the University of Denver Law School and became legal counsel, secretary and vice president of Continental Airlines where he spent his entire career, while Harriet began making her own mark and became a vibrant and resilient force in the Denver community.
She was a tireless supporter and volunteer of many organizations including St. Joseph’s Hospital, Garden Club of Denver, St. Anne’s Episcopal School (then the “St. Anne’s Home” which provided care to children with polio), and she served on the boards of trustees for Mount Airey Psychiatric Hospital, the Anderson Ranch, and the Denver Arts Students League where she was president and a founder. The arts in Denver became her true passion. The Harriet Kelly Gallery at The Denver Arts Students League is a reminder of her efforts. She also helped establish the very successful Coors Art Show in 1992 and served as a board member for many years. In 2011, she was honored with the Marybelle Grant Award in recognition of her service and passion for art in Colorado.
More than anything, Harriet was known for her wicked sense of humor and vivacious personality and for being “in charge” of her family and her many pursuits. Her generosity, outgoing spirit, and love of life and all its adventures are a reminder to all of us, how wonderful life truly is. She even said herself in her final days, “I lived an incredible life and wouldn’t have changed a thing.” She was an avid dog lover, philanthropist, and above all else an amazing mother and friend.
Harriet was preceded in death by her husband, George J.M. Kelly, sister, Sue Howe Cardwell, son, Robert Howe Kelly and daughter-in-law, Rose Kelly. Harriet is survived by her sister Virginia Howe Perrins, and her four children, John T. Kelly (Aspen), Leslie M. Kelly (Denver), Pamela L. Kelly (Denver) and Scott M. Kelly (Los Angeles), and her grandchildren Sean Kelly (Basalt), Ben A. Kelly (Carbondale), Georgia M. Rising (Denver) and Lucy R. Murphy (Denver), her great grandchildren Evelyn, Fiona, Finn and Liam Kelly, and many nieces and nephews. Her sweet dog, Rocky, remained by her side until the very end.
A memorial service was held on Jan. 20, 2017 for family and friends at the Denver Country Club.