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Long-time Los Alamos resident and artist, Donald Keith Kelley passed away on the evening of Sept. 13 at Los Alamos Medical Center.
Keith was born in Cambria, Ill. in November 1928 to Henry and Ethel Kelley. He married Carrie Lee (“Pinky”) Jago in 1950. Keith was preceded in death by his wife, Carrie, and daughter, Karla Zimmerly. He is survived by brother David Kelley and his wife, Betty of Houston, Texas; daughters Karen Valdez and her husband, Valentin of Salida, Colo., Kerry Perera and her husband, Brint of Los Alamos; sister-in-law Alma Gonzales and husband Frank of Las Vegas, Nev.; son-in-law, Brian Zimmerly of San Clemente, California; grandchildren Faye Valdez Fortson, Chesco Valdez and his wife Amie; Breanna and Brittany Perera; and Ryan Zimmerly; great-grandchildren Alexandria and CJ Valdez; and many nieces and nephews.
Keith enjoyed a full and beautiful life. He transferred from Highland Park College in Michigan to the University of New Mexico to pursue the study of Archeology. Keith came to Los Alamos to work at the Safeway store in 1949. He retired at 46 from retail business — having been a manager at the Mesa Market and Piggly Wiggly stores — and began a new life, full-time, in oil painting and sculpting. He painted hundreds of original paintings (each with his signature “hidden bunny” in them), now hanging in private collections around the country and the world, including in the American Embassies in Moscow, Russia and Pretoria, South Africa.
Keith was an avid skier. He also liked rock climbing, kayaking, and tennis. He was a pilot, having his own plane at 19. He was a professional photographer, and won many national awards for his photographs, including one that is hanging in the Smithsonian.
A private interment will be at Guaje Pines Cemetery in Los Alamos. Arrangements for a memorial celebration of Keith’s life are pending. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity.
Keith “never met a stranger”, and said everyday, “life is good”. He wished all his family and friends love.