Howard Kelleher went to the big meeting in the sky Tuesday,
July 12, 2005.
He was born June 8, 1908 in Seattle. He celebrated his 97
birthday last month. Howard was raised
in Des Moines, Iowa and moved to the Yakima Valley in the 1920s. He was in the
first graduating class of Yakima Valley Community College. Howard married
Katherine Barker in 1935. They had two children, Ron and Karen.
Howard and Katherine loved to travel, a passion Howard
continued after Katherine’s passing. He went on world tours and cruises and
managed to travel to Peru, Ireland, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Alaska, New Zealand,
Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean in the past 10 years.
Howard’s greatest love and achievement, outside of his
family, was his sobriety from his alcoholism attained on June 26, 1960. He
celebrated 45 years of sobriety two weeks ago. Once Howard was able to get
sober, he began carrying the message to other alcoholics through involvement
with Alcoholics Anonymous and professional counseling services.
Howard Kelleher was one of the original founders of Sundown
M Ranch in White Swan, where he began to work in 1968. Howard and Katherine
provided counseling to thousands of alcoholics in the formative years of
Sundown, from which he retired in 1975, at age 67.
Howard was also one of the original founders of Yakima
Council on Alcoholism (Triumph Treatment Services), where he served on the
board of directors for over 10 years and remained a Board Member Emeritus until
his passing. Following his retirement from Sundown M Ranch in 1979, Howard
helped found the Valley Alcohol Council
(MERIT Resource Services), where he served as a board member, then later
a short stint as executive director, and finally as a Board Member Emeritus. In
his honor, MERIT Resource Services established the Howard Kelleher Scholarship
in 1995, which is awarded annually to local graduating high school students.
In addition to attending every board meeting since 1979,
Howard had continued to provide counseling services and conduct group therapy
up until last week. Howard’s contributions to Alcoholics Anonymous and to the
development of Addiction Counseling Services in Yakima Valley over the last 40
years are immeasurable.
To attempt to sum up Howard Kelleher’s presence would be
impossible without this story: About 10 years ago, Howard met a young man with
alcohol problems and offered to help him get sober. The young man later ended
up in jail, where he then asked for Howard’s help through a letter. The young
man didn’t know Howard’s last name so he mailed the letter to:
Howard got the letter.
He is survived by his daughter, Karen of Novato, Calif.; a
grandson, Greg Maissen; a granddaughter, Patty Weichel; and
great-grandchildren, Shawn, Zach and Kaitlan.
He was preceded in death by his life partner, Katherine in
1993; and his son, Ron in 1995.
Howard touched the hearts of thousands of people, who will
all miss him. A celebration of Howard’s life will be held Saturday, July 23,
2005, at 1 p.m. at the Sunnyside Presbyterian Church. Smith Funeral Home,
Sunnyside, is in charge of arrangements.