ALICE OTTER KELLEY
Born in San Diego on August 4, 1929, Alice Barbara Otter was James and Florence Otter's only child.
Alice was raised in Calexico, where her mother was a kindergarten teacher and her father owned a gentlemen's clothing store and served as the Superintendent for the Imperial Valley Water District.
Like her mother Florence, Alice was a gifted pianist. She took music lessons throughout her childhood from the Otters' next-door neighbor, Tilla McCampbell. Her piano recital programs, dating back to the early forties, list composers such as Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven.
While the Otters spent their summers at their Calexico Lodge cabin near Boulevard, California-a community of families escaping the oppressive Imperial Valley heat, Alice longed for a sibling, as she was often the only non-adult at family events.
She began developing an interest in teaching at an early age-occasionally visiting her mother as she taught in her classroom.
Alice's two closest childhood friends were Joy Carmichael and Lyla Jacobs. The three remained close until Joy's and Lyla's passings in the early 2000s.
Gregarious and sociable, Alice was actively involved at Calexico Union High School, where she graduated as Salutatorian 1947.
Enrolling at San Diego State College the fall of that year, Alice lived in a dorm and, while she missed her parents, she loved college life and developed many friendships that continued throughout her life.
After graduating from San Diego State, Alice attended Whittier College to become an elementary school teacher. It was while at Whittier College that Alice met Robert Smith. They fell in love and married in 1952, residing in Whittier, where Alice taught elementary school while Robert attended Pharmacy School at USC.
After Robert graduated from USC, the couple moved to El Cajon where Robert worked as a pharmacist. It was at this pharmacy that Robert was introduced to an Intern Pharmacist and fellow USC alumnus named Bob Kelley.
Jim was born in February of 1955. Six months later Alice was pregnant with Janet.
Unfortunately, the marriage didn't work and Robert and Alice Smith were divorced.
Because he realized that Alice needed extra help, Bob Kelley began visiting her-often providing her with groceries-as well as taking her and Jim to the beach and area parks.
Bob and Alice fell in love and were married in 1957. They moved to La Mesa where Bob Kelley purchased and managed Read Pharmacy.
Incredible as it many seem, there were no negative words ever exchanged regarding the earlier divorce. Robert Smith and Bob Kelley always respected one another. In fact, in the late seventies they even worked together.
In 1965, Bob Kelley's two children-Maureen and Art, both in high school-came to live with Bob, Alice, Jim and Janet. The family then moved to a larger home in La Mesa.
A year later, Bob purchased a drug store in Escondido. The family soon followed, moving there in 1967.
Throughout Alice's career, she taught kindergarten and first grade primarily at Miller and Oakhill elementary schools in Escondido. She took pride in knowing that she had taught several generations within the same families.
Always interested in furthering her education, Alice persevered to obtain a Master's Degree in Education.
Alice and Bob had a marriage that some people only dream of. They respected each other and always made sure that the other felt loved and cared for. Their partnership was based on trust and a shared vision of their future. They were never interested or impressed with material things. They appreciated quality but decided early in their marriage to always live within their means. They both had a deep appreciation for companionship and humor, which manifested into their friendships. Neither of them was interested in people's social backgrounds or how they could benefit from them.
Alice and Bob enjoyed traveling with friends to Lake Tahoe, Lake Powell, Las Vegas, and Laughlin. They took great pleasure in their monthly poker parties-a 26-year tradition that was interrupted when they and their poker friends cruised the Mexican Riviera-paying for their entire trip by way of the ships' craps table.
Bob and Alice shared so many loving memories. She retired from teaching in 1990. Bob had previously retired from pharmacy in the 80's.
In 2000, Bob's health began to decline. Beginning in 2002, he suffered several strokes, and in of April 2005 he passed away peacefully in his sleep. Although Bob's health had been failing for 5 years, Alice wasn't emotionally prepared for the loss of her lifelong love.
Alice's close, longtime friend, Adora-a fellow retired teacher-officiated at Bob's services. She was both dynamic and engaging-adding just the right amount of levity to an extremely somber occasion.
Adora married Will McGee in 2006 and they often included Alice in their many outings, as they knew she was grieving over her loss of Bob. Sadly, Adora passed suddenly in September of 2006. Not long after, Will asked Alice to accompany him to Adora's gravesite. From that time forward, they were devoted companions.
Alice and Will enjoyed countless activities. They attended movies, concerts, baseball games, their grandchildren's sporting events, family gatherings, and dined out. Will visited Alice five nights a week at 5:30 sharp for dinner. Alice loved cooking for Will-he loved it even more. After dinner, they would play cards and converse. They loved watching TV together… movies, news, Jeopardy and Law and Order SVU. On the two nights that weren't spent at Alice's house, Will took Alice to restaurants. They enjoyed each other's company, exploring various foods-even taste-testing onion rings (Red Robin, by the way, was the winner). The two had great fun. It was touching to see their love for each other.
Last Thanksgiving Will received news that he had a brain tumor. On February 10th of this year Will passed away. Alice was crushed. Her loving companion wasn't here. Her schedule and routine had ended.
Even though she appeared to keep busy, Alice was suffering from a broken heart.
Alice Otter Kelley was a beautiful woman, inside and out.
She was kind, sending hand-written notes of appreciation to family and friends.
She was generous, with a seemingly bottomless list of causes to which she donated time and money.
She was very intelligent-willing to debate open-mindedly on issues she felt were important.
She was eloquent, with countless letters published in the San Diego Union editorial pages-not to mention her scores of written dialogues with politicians and celebrities.
She exhibited grace and elegance both personally and socially.
She was a sensational artist, drawing and painting landscapes, friends and pets.
She was quick-witted, with the ability to deliver devastating one-liners.
She had a deep respect and love of living things-rescuing insects, feeding birds and caring for wayward animals.
She was a loving and fun MOM-entertainingly guiding and nurturing her children-and making all of their friends feel invited.
She was unbelievably thoughtful-freely giving and always providing more than her share.
She was an optimist-always looking at the bright side-and letting others know how much she enjoyed the moment, and their company.
When shopping, she kept Beanie Babies in her purse to share with children that appeared unhappy.
She looked for books that would interest her dear friends. She was always thinking of others.
She freely created portraits of friend's and acquaintances' pets. She was a giver.
Every time her children visited, she provided them with a personalized bag of goodies containing objects such as articles, CDs and books that were customized to their liking.
If you knew Alice, you were blessed.
Honor Alice's memory with a promise to live a better life for having known her.
Services will be held Saturday, April 26th at 1 p.m. at McLeod Mortuary, 1919 E. Valley Parkway, Escondido. In lieu of flowers, please donate to one of the following organizations in Alice's name: Escondido Assistance League or the Greyhound Adoption Center in El Cajon.
Arrangements under the direction of Funeraria del Angel McLeod, Escondido, CA.