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Daniel T.

Daniel T. "Bud" Kelly Jr.


Honored May, 2005

Daniel T. "Bud" Kelly Jr.

Bud (Daniel T.) Kelly Jr. was born in 1921 to a prominent and historically significant Santa Fe family, and then proceeded to make his own life prominent and historically significant as well. A lifelong resident of the city except when attending college and serving in the U.S. Army in World War II and Korea, he has expressed his love of Santa Fe in a remarkable number of ways.

He was a founding board member of St. John's College and the Santa Fe Opera, and has also served on the boards of the School of American Research, the College of Santa Fe, Santa Fe Prep, First National Bank, and the International Folk Art Foundation, among other organizations. An avid outdoorsman, he helped found both the Pajarito Walking Group and the Santa Fe Winter Ski Club. He founded and directed the Kelly Insurance Agency until retiring in 1982, and his firm specialized in underwriting cultural activities. One of the great pleasures in his career was presenting the Santa Fe Opera with a check for $100,000 within hours of the catastrophic 1967 fire, enabling the season to proceed in the old Sweeney Gym.

With his late wife, Jeanne, he raised four children, and instilled in them his own abiding love and respect for Santa Fe's uniqueness. He saw his wife through her final illness, then established a scholarship in her name at St. John's College. He was "surrogate father" to a nephew when the boy's own father died. For decades he carefully tended a 160-acre tract he owned in the midst of the Santa Fe National Forest, and when it was ravaged in 2000 by the Viveash Fire, he cleared the ruined land to restore its "dignity."

The parties and events Bud has hosted in his Palace Avenue home are legendary, as were the ones hosted by his grandparents and parents before him. He has informed himself deeply on local lore, legend and history, and is recognized as a marvelous storyteller and tour guide. He has befriended countless newcomers to Santa Fe, and has been their introduction to New Mexico's rich culture.

In his mid-80s he still hikes from six to 12 miles a week, rides a bicycle, cuts wood, plays tennis and squash, and goes out dancing. And as one of his supporters marvels: "He has done all this while maintaining a full head of hair, which he affirms is not colored!