OBITUARY

Donald Hayden Kelley

May 27, 1929February 13, 2021

Don was proud to be 91 years of age, and was in his usual good spirits to the end.

Don is preceded in death by his wife, Geraldine, the love of his life and best friend for over 51 years, and his stepson Ronald Zahller. He was the loving father of six children: four from his first marriage; John Kelley, Tom Kelley, Susan Burns (husband Robert) and Brenda Kelley, and two stepsons from his current marriage; John Zahller and Ronald Zahller (wife Brenda). Don was the proud grandfather of seven grandchildren; Robert Zahller (wife Jenna), Justin Paul Zahller (wife Kellie), Melissa Zahller, Richard Burns, Aaron Kelley, Ian Burns, Jake Kelley, and four great-grandchildren, Zia, Onyx, Ronald and Jennie Jo.

Growing up in a small town, Donald Hayden Kelley found inspiration to practice law from his cousin and a family friend, who were distinguished for their legal prowess. With their influence, he knew he wanted to conduct analytical work while also helping others. He studied at the University of Nebraska, where received a BS in law in 1950 and an LLB in 1952. Don attributed his professional successes to his alma mater, where he believed he received the best possible law education. From there, he was admitted to practice law in Nebraska and Colorado, as well as before the U.S. District Court for Nebraska, U.S. Tax Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Don enlisted in the military and proudly served in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps during the Korean War.

Don commenced his career in 1955 as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The following year, he was a tax trial attorney for the Office of Regional Counsel with the IRS in Dallas, Texas. In 1979, Don was the founding partner of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne P.C. in North Platte, Nebraska. The firm continues it’s broad and far reaching services to this day.

Notably, Don was named to Who’s Who Best Lawyers in America in 1987, and most recently he was the recipient of their Lifetime Achievement honor. He was also named to Best Lawyers by Town & Country Magazine and Best Lawyers in Denver by 5280 Magazine. Additionally, he was the recipient of an Agricultural Law Section Legal Service Award from the Colorado Bar Association in 1995, a Shining Light Award for Legal Education Services from the Nebraska Bar Foundation in 1994 and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Agricultural Law Association in 1987.

He was a prolific co-author of many books on the subject of estate planning, such as Estate Planning for Farmers and Ranchers, Family Business Organizations, and The Farming and Ranching Industries. An avid early adopter of technology in the practice of law, he created the estate planning software The Intuitive Estate Planner, and the e-book of technological legal resources, The Electronic Practice. He also contributed to numerous journals over the years.

He maintained affiliation with the American Bar Association, Nebraska State Bar Association, Colorado Bar Association, American College of Tax Counsel (past regent), American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (past regent), and American Law Institute. A fellow of the American Bar Foundation and American Agricultural Law Association, Don recalled the highlight of his career was winning a case on farmland valuation and Federal Circuit Court.

Don was a dedicated member of St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch CO, leading bible studies, as well as classes in estate planning. He was also a beloved resident at the Windcrest Retirement Community, where he continued to make many new friends.

While Don’s professional accomplishments were indeed impressive, his family would say all of that pales in comparison to his bravery in the many misadventures on cross country camping road trips…navigating unknown lands, handling mechanical breakdowns and fixing flat tires. And especially that time in New York when he drove the nineteen foot Chrysler station wagon with a Star Craft pop-up camper in tow, through Manhattan traffic, in pursuit of the only available repairman for a shattered rear windshield.

He was an intelligent, kind and gentle man who genuinely celebrated all his family and friends’ stories. No one was a stranger to Don. He will be sorely missed by all.

Services

6 March

Funeral Service

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Olinger Chapel Hill Mortuary & Cemetery

6601 South Colorado Blvd
Centennial, Colorado 80121

6 March

Graveside Service

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Olinger Chapel Hill Mortuary & Cemetery

6601 South Colorado Blvd
Centennial, Colorado 80121

6 March

Reception

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Olinger Chapel Hill Mortuary & Cemetery

6601 South Colorado Blvd
Centennial, CO 80121

Memories

Donald Hayden Kelley

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Cynthia Norman

February 24, 2021

Don was such a kind and gentle man. Yes, I remember Gerry’s art show and open house. What a talented artist! Don was a good friend and supporter to all he met, and I was blessed to know him (and Gerry) at church and at Wind Crest. I’m sure he and Gerry are enjoying their new “home” and being together. What a sweet couple.
Well done, good and faithful servant.

Charlotte Bordegaray

February 24, 2021

I had never played monopoly until I met Don. Once I had, I understood where his wonderful daughter got her pep and vigor. Don gained my instant respect and admiration from the day I met him. He will be missed greatly.

Karen and Dave Chomyak

February 22, 2021

We were so very sorry to hear of Don’s passing.
We always looked forward to seeing Don and Jerry as they were waiting to go into church.
Don did a great job taking care of Jerry during her final days.
They were a very special couple to Dave and I.
Sympathy and prayers for the family.

Karen and Dave Chomyak

Don and Mary Beth Kilgore

February 22, 2021

He was a good friend and neighbor. Very intelligent and helpful.
Our deepest sympathy to the family

Don and Mary Beth Kilgore

Peggy Uppenkamp

February 20, 2021

Glenn and I met Don and Jerry eight years ago when they became friends of my parents at Wind Crest. They both became members of our family. He and Jerry would often join our family in the dining room for dinner, and, afterwards, we would sit in the lounge and continue our conversation. Don truly was an amazing person. He was interested in everyone's story and always greeted everyone with a smile and a hug. It always warmed my heart to see how caring and loving he was towards Jerry. We were both so saddened to hear of Don's passing. We thought we would have many more discussions with him. He had so much to give.

We know we were blessed to have known Don and he will live on forever in our hearts.

Peggy & Glenn Uppenkamp

Nancy Bailey

February 20, 2021

My favorite memories were watching Don as he lovingly guided Gerry to receive Communion in front of our church. In the last few years, Gerry didn't always comprehend the process of receiving bread, dipping it in juice and then putting it in her mouth. Don was always appreciative as I guided her in the Communion process and would usually give me a warm hug right there on the spot. The warmth he directed to Gerry and everyone else he came in contact with, is a lesson for us all.

Jolain Graf

February 19, 2021

Dear Family,

You have been on my mind and in my prayers as you grieve the loss of both your parents within a couple months of each other. I pray God will hold you close and sustain you in the days ahead.

I will miss your parents. They were such a loving presence at the church.

Don's faithful and tender love for Gerry was a profound witness to his faith and always touched my heart. He was gentle, humble, kind, and encouraging. I always looked forward to Don and Gerry hugs on a Sunday morning!

A few years ago Don invited the senior adult group at the church to come to their apartment to see Gerry's artwork. What a gift! We got to see not only Gerry's amazing work but his pride in her accomplishments. It was a delightful afternoon.

God bless you and keep you.
Rev. Jolain Graf

Esther Resler

February 19, 2021

I was in a Disciple Bible class with Don and Jerry in the 1990's and we have remained friends since then. I always enjoyed the research that Don did which added to the discussion. I will miss greeting both of them when we return to worship at the church. I wish them a peaceful transition to eternal life.

Larry Todd

February 19, 2021

Brenda and families

Erna and I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to you at this time of loss.
I still recall the first time I met Don. I was fresh out of law school and looking for work. I had interviewed with and been hired by another member of the firm and was to meet the rest of the members of the firm. It was then that I met Don and thus began a career-long association that I will always cherish and never forget. At that meeting, Don handed me a couple of books on taxation that he thought I “ought” to read before I actually began my first day of work which was still 2-3 weeks away. That was, I came to understand, typical Don.
Don was forward thinking in his approach to the practice and was always trying out the newest, most innovative, approaches to the practice of law. His systemization of the practice and forms organization and usage was truly state of the art and I benefitted from what he had developed for the whole of my time with the firm. He welcomed the computer age to his practice and drug most of us along with him as he set about computerizing the practice. Most of my early client base was the result of Don’s delegation of his always present and pressing work flow. He was always willing to share that client base with other members of the firm. Yet, even though I had been doing a client’s work for 20+ years, they frequently asked about Don, where he was and how he was doing.
Don was a great mentor, leader in doing bar association work, prolific writer and someone who readily shared his knowledge and experience with others. I benefited greatly from all aspects of this. He was such an encourager and constantly sought the best for we who worked with him and for his clients.
Most importantly, Don was a kind, gentle, caring and compassionate person whose presence every day at the office was something to look forward to and value.
I know he will be greatly missed.

Larry and Erna Todd

Barbara Cohen

February 17, 2021

When Don was office sharing at Wade Ash I got to know him. A kind and gentle man.
So sorry for your loss.

Barbara Cohen

FROM THE FAMILY