Thomas Kelly

Obituary of Thomas Kevin Kelly

Thomas Kevin Kelly, beloved husband, father, son and brother, passed away August 28th in Denver. He was 59 years old.

Tom was born in Bronx, New York, on January 17, 1961, and graduated from Wayne Memorial High School in Wayne, Michigan, in 1979. Tom backpacked through Ireland and Europe after high school and attended Kalamazoo College in Western Michigan. Tom played soccer for the Kalamazoo Hornets while earning a degree in political science in 1984. During his time at Kalamazoo he studied abroad at the School of Irish Studies in Dublin, Ireland.

Tom moved to Denver in 1985 where he met his future wife, Laura. After becoming engaged in Aspen, the two were wed on May 22, 1988, in Springfield, Illinois, and settled in Denver. Tom began his career working for the EPA in Lakewood, Colorado, before the couple moved to Washington D.C. in 1989. In D.C. Tom worked as a reporter for The Pink Sheet, a pharmaceutical newspaper. While in D.C., Tom earned a master’s degree in American History from George Mason University. Following the birth of their son, Carl, in 1994, Tom, Laura and Carl moved to Minneapolis/St. Paul in 1995.

After six months as a stay-at-home dad, Tom was hired by the Minnesota State Senate Office in the communications department. He moved on to be the Communications Director for the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), and later formed his own consulting firm, Kelly Killeavy Strategic Communications. Tom worked with Minnesota companies, nonprofit organizations, and political candidates to promote their missions and provide public relation services.

In 2007 Tom began working for the National Democratic Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. Tom, Laura and Carl moved to Belgrade, Serbia, where Tom served as Country Director for seven years. It was an adventurous time for the whole family – meeting remarkable foreign service families from all over the globe and traveling extensively in southeastern Europe.

Carl returned to the U.S. in 2013 to attend Regis University in Denver. Tom and Laura came full circle back to Denver in 2014 and found their dream home in the foothills west of Denver. Beginning in 2015 Tom served as District Director for U.S. Representative Diana DeGette focusing on constituent services. In 2018 Tom returned to NDI as Country Director for Thailand, where he worked until January 2020.

While Tom’s work was important to him, he was defined by the deep and meaningful relationships he forged in his 59 years, and his keen Irish wit. Tom was a loyal, devoted friend and a loving husband and father. Tom and Carl had a special relationship and many common interests. He loved soccer, as a player and a spectator, and was a fan of most sports. Tom preferred playing sports to watching them, and had a love of the outdoors he passed on to Carl.

Tom was an avid reader, a lifelong learner and a passionate advocate for democratic issues. Tom believed it was important that everyone take part in the democratic process, as a volunteer, voter or participant.

Tom is survived by Laura, his wife of 32 years; his son, Carl; his mother, Bridget; brothers Patrick (Amy), Michael (Ann) and Kevin (Janelle); and nieces Karla, Emma, Kalen, Clare and Ava; and nephews Matt and Joseph.

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