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He grew up in Durango and graduated from Durango High School in 1959, having excelled in wrestling and football. He was affectionately known as “Dunk,” a name that stayed with him his whole life. He was certain he’d grown up in the best time and place in the world.
Shortly thereafter, he joined the Army and served as a paratrooper and in communications until 1962. He followed that with various construction jobs in southwest Colorado. On a trip to visit his mom in California in 1967, he met Carol Dando. They married on Feb. 16, 1968. They had a son, Barry, and moved from California to Farmington, N.M., where he found his calling in sales. First in cars and trucks, then in 1979, he got his Colorado real estate license. He moved his family to Pagosa Springs where he had a long and fulfilling career in real estate and log home sales and construction.
Jim loved living, raising his son and making a living in these wonderful mountains for 35 years. He loved his family dearly and cherished his many friends and classmates. He is survived by his wife, Carol; son Barry and wife Jennifer, of Pagosa Springs; brother Marc and wife Michele, of Westminster, Colo.; sister VeAnn Kelley, of Durango; and sister DiAnn Hitchcox and husband Jim, of LaSalle, Colo.; a granddaughter and six nieces and nephews.
Jim passed away Sunday, July 6 at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango.
The family has planned a memorial to celebrate the life of this very special man. Details will be released soon. Jim Kelley was passionate about animal welfare. A gift to the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs would be a gift to him as well.