Doris Kelton (1929 – 2021)
On December 20, 1929, two months after the beginning of the Great depression, Doris Jean Haury was born to Gus and Delia in Halstead, Kansas, where both of her parents were teachers at the local school. Doris, together with her parents and older siblings Earl and Ellen, were part of the Mennonite community associated with Bethel College. Ralph and Ruth Kroeker, orphaned teenagers of distant relatives, joined the family when Doris was young.
Raising a family in the '30's was tough and Doris attended multiple schools as the family moved about the country in the search for work. As a child, she enjoyed roller skating and learned to play the violin. After graduating from South High School in Denver in 1946, Doris attended the University of Colorado in Boulder where she received her degree in Education. While studying at CU she met the love of her life at her first college street dance, US Navy veteran and mechanical engineering student Michael Kelton, beginning the relationship which lasted the rest of their lives.
As a Mennonite, Doris' father Gus preferred not to carry weapons and as such served in the American Red Cross during and after World War II. He was posted first to the South Pacific, then stationed in post-war Germany assisting with the resettlement of civilians and soldiers. Her mother had booked passage to Europe, and Doris had her passport and ticket, but decided at the last minute to stay home and marry Mike. That difficult decision always remained as "the road not taken", especially when her father died overseas a short time later and she was unable to help her mother.
The young couple moved to southern California where Mike found a job in the booming aerospace business and Doris began her career as a teacher, with a classroom of 30 First Graders! However, the air pollution and allergies in Los Angeles (and missing relatives) brought the family back to Denver in 1955, now with two young children in tow. Mike found a job in Boulder and they had three more "baby boomers".
Moving to Littleton in 1961 was a way for Mike to shorten his commute to Martin-Marietta (now Lockheed-Martin) south of town. Once settled, they attended the Littleton United Methodist Church and began their involvement in the community. Doris and Mike supported their children's activities and sports endeavors; they became coaches, Scout leaders, season ticket holders, and members of various booster clubs. When not involved with kids’ activities, Doris played the violin with the Littleton Symphony Orchestra.
Many memories were created for the family on their annual vacations, which mostly consisted of piling the whole family in a station wagon and driving cross-country, camping in a tent along the way. The trips were usually to National Parks, National Monuments, and other historic sites, and usually involved visiting family relations in New York, Kansas, Michigan, and Arizona. Family legends involve stories from the New York World’s Fair (1964), Expo '67 in Montreal, Canada, and Hemisfair '68 in San Antonio, Texas – tales of camping at Padre Island National Seashore as a tropical storm rolled in are still told with relish.
Once the kids were older, Doris returned to teaching and spent 20 years teaching first grade at South Elementary School (later renamed Ralph Moody Elementary). She was well respected by colleagues and students, some of whom remembered her so fondly that they invited their former teacher to attend their weddings and stayed in touch with her for years afterwards. Later, she loved being part of the Retired Teachers group, and looked forward to their monthly luncheons.
All five children attended college and have successful careers and families. Collectively they brought six beautiful grandchildren into Doris' and Mike's lives, who loved the role of grandparents and never lost the thrill of being involved with this younger generation. After retirement, Mike and Doris would travel often to visit their kids, whether that was to Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, or Washington, DC. Late in her life Doris was finally able to take the trip to Germany that she had given up 60+ years earlier.
Husband Mike died on June 4, 2006, and Doris stayed in the house for another 10 years, a total of around 55 years in the well-worn and comfortable house. Spending the final five years of her life at Someren Glen Christian Living Community, Doris enjoyed a different kind of independence. She loved the musical performances, speakers, and presentations and the simplicity of enjoying a good meal and conversation. Who would have known that Doris had such painting talents hidden away?
Doris was preceded in death by her parents, her sister and brother, husband Mike, and granddaughter Sarah. She is survived by children Karen (Achim) of Fairbanks, Alaska; Greg (Sheri) of Littleton, Jim (Sue) of Broomfield, Jerry (Ingrid) of Friedland, Germany, and Steve (Emily) of Boulder, as well as grandchildren Eric, Hawkins, Cheyenne, Andrew, and Benjamin. Other family and friends who have remained close to Doris are appreciated by the family.
A private interment will be held in May 2021 where she will join Mike at Fort Logan National Cemetery. Doris was a very generous person and loved nothing more than contributing to a worthy local cause, benefiting children or the arts.
In lieu of flowers, her family suggests that donations could be made to the Littleton Symphony Orchestra, Inner Faith Task Force, or a favorite education cause in her name.
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