Pam left this world November 27, 2020 and was welcomed into the gates of Heaven by her mother, Alice Marie Gouchenhour, father, Kenneth T. Milligan Sr, and daughter Cristalynn. Born in Renton, Washington on September 26, 1957, the youngest child of four and the only girl.
As a young woman she became interested in skating competition. She excelled as an athlete and loved to skate. Before she could explore that life path further, the Lord blessed her with her first daughter. She then hung up her skates for tennis shoes. She loved being a mom, and “loved ALL of her babies” she always said. She gave birth to Heidi, David, Cristalynn, Heather and Megan. She was also notorious for “adopting” extras all through the years and was a loving step mother to Wayne as well.
When she wasn’t adopting extras, one of the projects that was near to her heart was making quilts, booties, swaddling blankets and burp cloth kits for all newborns, free of charge, to the recipients at North Valley Hospital in Tonasket. She was a talented seamstress, and was passionate about quilting. Each little kit was different, but all were soft “hugs from Nana Kelly,” as she always said. That way she could love as many new babies as possible. She would always beam when showing off her new and adorable creations. She also received numerous thank you cards from dozens of people she’d never met sincerely thankful for the set they received. She kept every card, and every picture of “her precious babies” wrapped snug in a “Nana hug” next to her sewing machine. Nana Kelly donated over 300 quilt sets. That is a lot of love!
Pam’s greatest love was for her devoted husband of 36 years. They were best friends, and equal teammates through all. And, in being the wife of a fighting Seabee, she proved she could fight right beside him by raising three little girls at home alone and taking on all home repairs needing done while Mike was deployed in the Gulf War. Later, she, Mike, Heather and Megan went on to build the house of their dreams, becoming the first established home on that mountain. Pam never wavered through the huge life change and sacrifices she and Mike had to make to accomplish the dream of building their home. At times, it was a daunting, grueling process. Yet, she was always looking forward to the next task needing done and where in life she could apply her broad pioneer skills. One of those sacrifices while building, was having to use an outhouse for about two years. After a harrowing incident with a screaming varmint in the little house out back, she was VERY excited to move into the house before it was even chinked. It had indoor plumbing!
Mike and Pam shared a rare love, usually only wished for. They had an unbreakable bond, that was strong in nature and forged to become unbreakable. Together, they realized their dreams, overcame otherwise impossible obstacles and inspired those around them. He even still chased her around the house in play and she would “let him chase her, until she caught him,” up until this year.
She loved playing with words. Pam loved books, English, grammar, crossword puzzles, etc. She was always on the lookout for new, interesting words to learn and use.
Pam was a strong supporter of local rodeo associations such as O.C.J.R.A, C.T.J.R.A, Tonasket Founders Day Rodeo and the Omak Stampede. Her youngest daughters both served on various rodeo courts as rodeo queens. Pam proudly made beautiful rodeo shirts, outfits, a serape and assembled exquisite parade bouquets to adorn the horses.
She was a very versatile woman. She loved to learn, and always referenced the Robert Heinlein quote on her sewing room wall that ended with “specialization is for insects.” A small sample of her interests and skill set are in no way limited to: quilting, sewing, processing wool from fleece to spool, quill work, cooking, gardening, canning, wild foraging, hunting, trapping, beading, and anything to do with art. She did all of this, while being legally blind. She had battled glaucoma most of her life and was told she would be completely blind by 40. Miraculously, she retained all but peripheral vision.
Pam Kelly was a beacon of hope and pillar of strength. She loved intensely, and helped those around her however she could. Pam always took the opportunity to smile or laugh whenever it arose. She was the strong shoulder, words of wisdom, and safe place to be for many youth through her life. She loved all her grandchildren wildly, both, natural and adopted. ‘Nana made’ Halloween costumes will be forever missed, yet cherished, as will many Nana gifts.
It is with heavy hearts we lay to rest this legendary woman. She was a daughter, sister, wife and one of the best mothers to have ever existed. Her presence on this earth was powerful, and her exit left a resounding echo through this valley.
In the poem, “The Dash,” it speaks how it isn’t the beginning date nor the ending date that is the most important in one’s obituary, rather it is the time in between those dates that counts— the dash. Pam’s dash in this world was a remarkable one. She lived a full life, created a strong and worthwhile family, loved the love of her life and together built their dreams. Poker runs on the Harley, camping, hunting, prospecting, mountain man rendezvous, Jr. Rodeo mom, and more… What a dash it was.
The family would like to extend an open invitation to anyone who has received a baby quilt made by Nana Kelly. Please feel free to bring these with you, as we would love to display as many as we can at her services. At this time, we plan to have a memorial on May 1, 2021 at the Tonasket Eagles.
Bergh Funeral Service & Crematory is in care of arrangements.