Shirley Sneath Kelley, a longtime Ladera resident, exuberant supporter of sports and charities, died in her sleep on Easter Sunday, April 9, at The Sequoias in Portola Valley, her home of about 10 years. She was 96.
Shirley and her husband, the late Ryland Kelley, were founding shareholders in the Palo Alto Weekly and helped to launch the weekly newspaper in 1979.
Raised in Hillsborough, Kelley graduated Stanford University, where she enrolled at age 16 after graduating from Burlingame High School.
She married Ryland Kelley, a future prominent real estate developer. Ryland Kelley helped create Ladera, a planned community of more than 525 homes, and the Ladera Shopping Center. Ryland Kelley and his brother, the late Bill Kelley, also were responsible for planning the Lindenwood neighborhood in Atherton.
The couple raised their three sons in Ladera, where they ultimately spent about 50 years before moving into a guest house in Woodside. She moved to The Sequoias retirement community when her husband died.
Shirley Kelley, who stood at 6-foot-2, was full of warm embraces and questions, and never without a signature fresh-picked flower in her hair and a striking smile, acording to her son Bruce Kelley.
"I will miss my mom's spirit for life and current events and sports," Bruce Kelley said. "She was just a tremendous fan of people and teams and political figures, musicians she loved. ... She had a genuine enthusiasm for what people were up to."
After raising her three sons, Rich, Tom and Bruce, Shirley Kelley started a career at Stanford's Lively Arts in 1974. She later wrote features for The Almanac's sister publication, the Palo Alto Weekly, and she and her husband were among the founding shareholders in the Palo Alto Weekly.
After that, she embarked on a 20-year career as a development director, according to Bruce Kelley.
She was vice president of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, one of the nation's largest Planned Parenthood chapters, from 1991 into the 2000s. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that she is credited with helping grow her Planned Parenthood affiliate into the largest in the nation, as measured by its number of patients and budget size.
She also raised funds for the Positive Coaching Alliance and RENEW, an organization devoted to nurses. As a volunteer, she served on the Resource Committee of Families in Transition, a program to help immigrant families from Mexico get settled in Silicon Valley.
Her oldest son, Rich, played in the NBA for 11 years, which led Shirley and Ryland to travel widely to games.
Even in her 80s and 90s, she could be spotted at a San Francisco Giants game, a blues show at Club Fox in Redwood City, or out at Rossotti's Alpine Inn, the place where she first drank beer as a teenager, Bruce said.
Shirley Kelley was preceded in death by Ryland, who died of cancer in 2014. She is survived by sons Richard Ryland Kelley of Woodside; Thomas Mirk Kelley of San Francisco; and Bruce Kibbee Kelley of Wilmington, New York; and grandchildren Sam Kelley of Woodside; Riley Kelley of Bend, Oregon; Rachel Kelley of San Francisco; and Neil Kelley of Nashville.