Thomas Michael “Buck” Kelley, 57, of Ellensburg, Wash., passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack Sunday, July 31, 2011, at his home. He went peacefully in his sleep.
Tom was born Sept. 8, 1953, in Pekin, Ill., to Melvin E. and Betty J. Kelley.
Surviving are his wife, Beryl; his mother, who had relocated from Tillamook, Ore., in January to live with Tom and Beryl; and two stepsons, Richard C. Doane of Seattle and Sean C. Doane of Everett, Wash.
Tom was preceded in death by his father and by his stepfather, Everett H. Jarchow.
After graduating from Pekin Community High School, he received a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1975.
He worked in the Chicago area with a engineering consulting firm for a short while and moved to Washington state in 1977. Tom joined Snohomish County Public Works in Snohomish, Wash., in 1985 and worked there for more than 20 years. In 2007, Tom accepted the construction manager position with Kittitas County Public Works in Ellensburg.
Tom spent the majority of his career as a public employee, designing and building roads, bridges, sidewalks and facilities. He built the hippopotamus enclosure and waste storage facility at Woodland Park Zoo in Washington state. He worked on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Temple in Bellevue, Wash. He worked on the Snohomish County PUD Henry M. Jackson Hydro-electric project in Sultan, Wash. He worked on the NOAA Regional Research Laboratory at Sand Point in Seattle. He worked the Snohomish County medium waste facility in Everett, Wash. He built overpasses for the Centennial Trail extension project from Lake Stevens to Arlington in Washington. He improved and widened multiple county roads to help motorists in their travels.
Tom’s favorite activities were watching the Seattle Seahawks games as a season ticket holder, playing or listening to music, admiring fast cars and riding his motorcycle. Tom loved to root for the Seahawks at home games, and he was active in the Snohomish County Chapter of the Sea Hawkers Booster Club for many years. Even after moving to Ellensburg, he frequently attended home games with his friends.
Tom’s love of music began at an early age, and he was encouraged by his mother who played many instruments herself. Tom played coronet and trumpet in high school band, and begin playing bass guitar as a teenager. He played bass with Red Axe, Cheap Thrills and Mercenary in the 1980s. While in Ellensburg, he held jam sessions for local musicians on his private garage stage.
Tom had long been a fan of hot rods and fast bikes. He enjoyed the annual car show at in Snohomish and the annual Chamber of Commerce car show every September in Snohomish. For several years he competed in a demolition derby with Armadillo Racing team.
Tom was a long-time supporter of motorcycle rights and ABATE of Washington. He was a founding member of Sky Valley Chapter, ABATE of Washington near Everett. With his wife, Tom ran the ABATE spring and fall swap meets at the Evergreen Fairgrounds in Washington for seven years. He was a key leader in organizing and running the Old Snohomish Antique & Classic Motorcycle Show from 1996 until 2006. Since moving to Kittitas County, Tom helped to start the Iron Horse Trail Motorcycle Show in Ellensburg.
Tom coordinated CPR training for the Public Works Department after moving to Ellensburg, and he had become a big supporter of Kittitas County Chapter Red Cross.
Tom visited his family in Oregon often, and he introduced Tillamook friends to lattes while volunteering at the Tillamook United Methodist Church annual Christmas bazaar. He ran its espresso machine for several years.
A memorial honoring Tom’s life will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, at the family home in Ellensburg. Dean Eckloff, pastor of Midnight Cry Community Fellowship in Snohomish, will officiate. After the service, a motorcycle run will retrace the route of Tom’s last ride with his wife from Ellensburg to Cle Elum through Swauk Prairie and the Teanaway Valley.
Steward & Williams Tribute Center in Ellensburg is in charge of arrangements.
Memorial contributions may be made in Tom’s memory to the American Diabetes Association or to a local Red Cross chapter.