Shawn Patrick Kelley, 46, of Newport, NH, tragically passed away at his home on April 14, 2020. Shawn was born at Newport Hospital on March 14, 1974, just missing St. Patrick’s Day (although this never dampened his Irish pride). Being the youngest child by a decade--and the only boy--he was welcomed with joy and excitement by his parents, George and Jeannette Kelley, and his two older sisters. A cute little boy with blonde curls and an impish grin, he was the family’s pride and joy. He was almost always with them, knew all of their friends (and vice versa), and accompanied them to events large and small--where he was usually the center of attention. He had to be the most social and widely-known pre-schooler in all of Newport in the mid to late 1970’s.
As he entered grade school, his older sisters were graduating high school, leaving Shawn to rule the roost. Sadly, a few years later in 1984, Shawn lost his mother to cancer just shy of his 10th birthday. From that day forward, it was father and son, and it seemed that one could hardly be seen without the other. During these early years, Shawn was very fortunate to have formed bonds with some very close friends—along with their families. The Poissons, Duttons, Merrows, and Suojanens were all like second families to him growing up, and many of these friendships continued throughout his life.
Shawn was quite industrious in his adolescent years, starting his own lawncare service on a part-time basis during school, among other odd jobs and pursuits. He graduated from Newport High School in 1992, and went on to attend Plymouth State College, where he was an active member of the Phi Beta Upsilon fraternity. Shawn graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and Certification in Elementary Education in 1997—becoming the first in his family to earn a college degree (a fact that he was quite proud of, especially since he was the youngest).
For the next several years, Shawn held positions in the education and human services field, working with Milestones Children’s Center, Community Youth Advocates, Developmental Services of Sullivan County, and Therapeutic Behavioral Inclusion (TBI). He remembered these days and the people fondly, and is likewise remembered by many of his former students, clients, and colleagues. Helping children and adolescents was his true calling and passion—and he was great at it.
Many know that Shawn loved music, and he had a collection of acoustic and electric guitars, which he taught himself to play. He also had quite an impressive collection of concert tickets he had saved from over the years. What some may not know is that he was also a talented cook, and loved to create delectable dinners---often sending photos as proof (and to boast).
In the early 2000’s, he decided to turn his part-time lawncare business into a full-time venture, growing it into a successful business over the next several years. In 2007, he accepted a full-time position at the US Postal Service in White River Junction, VT, and later transferred to the Burlington facility, where he remained working until he retired in 2016 due to disability. Shawn suffered from a number of chronic and painful conditions, including psoriatic arthritis, traumatic head injury, depression, and related disorders. The cumulative impact of these health conditions became an increasingly significant challenge to him over the last several years of his life. He continued to live in the Burlington area, until his return to his hometown of Newport—and his family-- just a short while ago.
Shawn had a smile for everyone, and if he met you, he considered you a friend. He was always the one to reach out to say hello and see how you were doing (even if you hadn’t connected for a long while). He was definitely a ladies’ man, and though he never married, there were a few women whom he deeply loved and who always had a special place in his heart. What he held most dear was undeniably his family—whom he missed terribly while living in Vermont. His father passed away in 2017, and despite the age difference (or perhaps because of it), Shawn always remained very close to his sisters, regardless of life’s circumstances. He will best be remembered for his outgoing and friendly nature, his tremendous empathy and compassion, and his unwavering sense of humor. His quick wit and ability to make people laugh were his special gifts.
Gone before him were his parents, George and Jeannette (Gagne) Kelley, his grand-niece, Hannah Jean Ruthenberg, and his beloved yellow lab, Duncan. He will be laid to rest in the family plot, in his hometown of Newport, NH. He leaves behind his sisters, Jodi Kelley Hoyt (and husband, David) and Pamela Kelley, of Newport; nephews Dustin Holmes and Braytn Kelley of Newport; nieces Amanda Perry of South Royalton, VT, Rebecca Holmes Ruthenberg (and husband, Eric) of Merrimack, NH, and Meghan Holmes Pike (and husband Shane) of Croydon, NH; and four grand nieces and nephews---all of whom he adored and who will miss out on getting to really know their kind, fun, and loving Great Uncle Shawn. He also leaves behind his companion of almost 10 years, Brenda Boivin of Milton, VT, and several aunts, uncles, cousins, and his countless friends.
A celebration of Shawn’s life will be held later this summer, once groups of family and friends are able to gather together. Memorial contributions may be made to Kurn Hattin Homes for Children in Westminster, VT, 05158, a place which holds special meaning to Shawn and his family.
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