Mary Lisa Kelley, a Claremont, NH, native and 1981 graduate of Stevens High School, passed away on November 29, 2021. A grandmother, mother, stepmom, aunt, teacher, social worker, lover of all things purple and a great friend to so many, Lisa’s passing leaves those who knew her deeply saddened. Words cannot describe how profoundly she will be missed.
Lisa was born to Alice and Paul Kelley on September 26, 1963 and grew up just off Maple Avenue in Claremont. After graduating from SHS where she developed and applied her passion for music and theater, she later earned her undergraduate degree at Worcester State and a Master’s from Plymouth State. For many years she worked in the education sector as a teacher and, for a time, as a high school principal. Lisa was emphatically proud of so many of her former students of whom she often spoke.
In November 2015, Lisa began work in the child protection field in Morrisville District Office for the Vermont Department for Children and Families where she specialized in Investigations and Assessments. This particular role is oftentimes a family’s first contact with the department and is commonly a perceived adversarial relationship. Lisa was able to quickly form trusting relationships with children and their caregivers and help families negotiate a path forward, toward safety and stability. In a thankless job, Lisa was often called by families wishing to express their gratitude. Lisa’s supervisors were also frequently called with compliments and positive feedback from families. The professionals in this field of work with Lisa included law enforcement officers, lawyers, advocates and mental health professionals. All describe her as a fierce advocate, who was able to strike the elusive balance between being compassionate and direct. As a coworker and friend Lisa was loyal, supportive and always willing to help. Lisa worked in this role until her passing and has a left void in that office that will never be filled.
Anyone who knew Lisa can attest to her irrepressible energy, her remarkable, infectious laugh, and her unapologetic zest for life. When Lisa asked how you were doing, whether you were a friend, a client, a student, or a family member, it was because she truly cared about the answer. She listened deeply, and without judgement. Her compassionate nature is what made her such a great teacher and social worker as well as a caring friend. Always up for a spirited debate, Lisa lived true to her values and expressed herself passionately and articulately on the issues that mattered to her. Her pastimes often included Facetime with Coco, Adam, Kelley, and Alice, conversing with “her Peter,” long walks, listening to music from her favorite era and being crooned to by Tony Bennett. Sunday mornings were often spent teary-eyed from watching an endearing story on the show CBS Sunday Morning.
She loved being with her family and friends and was usually the life of any social gathering, drawing people in with her laugh and charisma. Lisa adored her son and her grandchildren. Being a grandmother was one of her greatest joys in life and the subject of many conversations. Her loss to those who knew and loved her is incalculable. Yet her boundlessly joyful spirit will live on in our hearts, and with every glance at the color purple, we will be reminded of her.
Lisa is survived by her mother, Alice, her son Adam, his wife Kelley and their daughter Colette, known affectionately as “Coco.” In addition, she is survived by her brother Brian, his wife Lisa and their family, her stepsons Casey and Collin, Collin’s wife Brittany and their son Weston.
Calling hours will take place at Stringer Funeral Home on Wednesday, December 8 from 2 – 4 PM followed by remarks and the sharing of memories from 4 – 5. Attendees will then gather at The Common Man in Claremont following the service.
The family plans to establish a memorial fund in Lisa’s name. But for now, please know that Lisa cared deeply about her community and felt very strongly about issues related to mental health and child services. She was also an ardent supporter of public radio. The family asks that if anyone is interested in making a donation in honor of Lisa, to please consider non-profits in these fields. A few of the organizations she was supportive of are: Planned Parenthood of Northern New England https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-northern-new-england, the Lamoille Family Center https://www.lamoillefamilycenter.org/ and Vermont Public Radio https://www.vpr.org/
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