In Memoriam: Kelly Lindsay

by Diana Kelly, Co-founder of Healing Circles Langley

On Friday, February 21st, 2020, Kelly G Lindsay passed away in the loving embrace of his wife, Diana, and extended family in his Freeland home. Kelly, the third of four children of Targe and Joanne Lindsay, was born in Garden City, Texas, on June 8, 1953. He was 66 years old.

Kelly was well-known on Whidbey Island for his quick wit, wisdom, and generous spirit. As co-founder of Healing Circles Langley, the sanctuary and learning community he founded with Diana, he did what he did best: he listened earnestly, he provided feedback without judgment nor prescription, and he created a nurturing environment through compassion, insight, and humor. Others knew him from the idiosyncratic charms he brought to island culture: his wearing a tuxedo to the Clyde Theatre when it started showing films seven days a week, the “maritime research” into the origins of the starboard aft twirl, and so on. A man of deep insight and vast arcane cultural knowledge, his observations, stories, pratfalls, and poetry had a remarkable ability to linger in the mind. Many of these are on display in his book, Something More than Everything, in his poetry, and on his site, which documented his 14-month journey with Glioblastoma and his transformative perspectives on life, love, and dying experienced along the way.

Throughout his life, Kelly demonstrated a profound love for road trips and the outdoors. In the summers of 1960 and 1961, he lived with this family in the community building at Mt. Rainier while his father, Targe, worked as a Naturalist. Imagining worlds within the mudflows and crags of Kautz Creek, Eagle Peak, and Indian Henry’s with his brothers, Kelly developed a deep affinity for nature that he nurtured throughout his lifetime with regular family hikes, camps, and trips to Rainier, Yosemite, Zion, and other national parks. Kelly’s affinity for exploring some of the most beautiful areas in the country dovetailed with his love of the open road, informed no doubt by his family’s move from west Texas to Sacramento in the late 1950s, or his drive with Diana from Vermont to California to Maine in a blue VW Bug home from their four-month honeymoon in 1974. Throughout Kelly’s adult life, he rarely missed an opportunity for a road trip–especially if it involved hitting up a drive-in along the way–either in the family van, his capricious Harley Davidson, or the resilient “Cuddle Shuttle” Toyota Prius. On the road, as he was in life, Kelly was attuned to the beauty around him, adventurous, and completely willing to ignore a map—what he’d attest was “the hallmark of any good road trip.”

A gifted athlete, Kelly attended Stanford University on scholarship for track and field. There he met Diana, his dorm RA,  and fell in love, at first sight, planning a dorm camping trip. They were engaged two months after they first followed each other on the hiking trail. His biology major became a lifelong devotion rather than a vocation.

Kelly was a firm believer in “always put someone else, anyone else, everyone else first,” particularly as it pertained to his family. After the birth of their daughter, Camilla, Kelly was a pioneer stay-at-home dad while Diana taught dance at nearby Cabrillo College. While rocking the Snugli/child carrier look for future men to follow, he taught toddler Camilla the names of the trees and plants, as well as how to build the cabinets, deck, and play fort for their Santa Cruz home (complete with a homemade slide that was alternatingly tree-sap-sticky or car wax dangerous). After his son, Eric, was born, the family moved further north to Palo Alto, in part, so his kids could live near their cousins. An early adopter of personal computers (the Apple 2) and self-taught accountant, he became CFO of Robert Pope & Associates and Spacebridge Broadcasting. He and Diana volunteered for Beyond War to keep the world safe from nuclear weapons. The remainder of his years in Palo Alto were filled with large family camping trips, holidays, and a prioritizing of families being there for each other.

Since moving to Whidbey Island in 1989, his contributions to the community were numerous and varied. After introducing him to the locals via a Vidocq-worthy tome he submitted as the solution for one of the earliest Langley Mystery Weekends, he co-founded a marketing communications firm with Diana, Lindsay Communications, which they grew from a two-person home venture to a successful local business that enabled their employees to buy their first homes, raise their families, and save for retirement. Kelly taught himself database and software development. Along the way, he served the community as a volunteer firefighter, arts benefactor, den leader, pole vault coach, and chaperone volunteer for South Whidbey school trips, sports events, concerts, and special events. As he aged, he added more job titles to his resume: tireless walker of babies; provider of loving attention and interest to nieces, nephews, and grandkids; ready cross-country-move companion; and all-around handyman. He was known for being a generous, loving, reliable partner, so much so that four nieces, nephews, and friends asked him to officiate their marriages. In his final months, he also continued to grow and overcome prejudices, including deciding rather late in the game that he didn’t actually dislike cucumbers after all. He serves as an inspiration to us all.

As his friends at the Whidbey Institute, where he led empowering Awake and Alive workshops for those facing serious illness, said, “He will long be remembered as someone who wove abundant love and strength into the fabric of our community.” Kelly will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and those who have been touched by his healing insight and humor across the world. He is survived by his wife, Diana; his 2 children and their spouses, Camilla (Isaac) and Eric (Kylie); and his 5 grandchildren, Thea, Jasper, Aidan, Eli, and Lena. His celebration of life, filled with warm stories and music, was held in Freeland Hall on February 23rd, 2020. He is buried in a green burial plot in the Langley Cemetery.

Donations in his memory can be given to Healing Circles Langley. You can read more about Kelly’s remarkable journey on his CaringBridge site.