Kellie Hess Jenkins

Published 6:35 am Thursday, January 20, 2022

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Kellie Hess Jenkins, 58, died January 16, 2022, peacefully in her home surrounded by family. Kellie battled valiantly to stay with us, especially for her grandkids, but her heart just couldn’t give her the time her spirit wanted.

Kellie was born in Salt Lake City, Utah at Holy Cross Hospital to Patricia Ann May and Michael Lance Hess on June 28, 1963. She is survived by her devoted husband, Bradley Jenkins, her two beautiful daughters, Hannah Greenough (Bryce) of Richland, Washington, and Tess Ha (Chris) of Portland, Oregon, and Kellie’s great loves – her grandson, Leo Ha, and granddaughter, Delilah Ha. Also survived by her father, Mike Hess (Ruth) of Sparks, Nevada, and her sister, Korrie Hess Sabbagh (Mounir) of Diamondhead, Mississippi, and her nieces, Leila and Sara, her nephew, Sami, as well as her brothers-in-law, Terry Jenkins of Laplace, Louisiana, his children, Alicia and Brandon, Barry Jenkins, and his daughters, Ellen and Lisa.

Kellie was preceded in death by her beloved parents-in-law, Ruby Jane and JY Jenkins, her grandparents Odean and Louise Hess, her mother, Pat May, her fairy God Aunt, Debra Hess, and dearest Grannie.

Married for 37 years, Kellie and Brad were sweethearts from their sophomore year in high school when Kellie moved to Louisiana from Reno, Nevada, where she grew up. Kellie was a smart, stunning, tall blond with a Far Side sense of humor and an affinity for alt music and punk (with a side of Queen). Kellie and Brad were inseparable for 41 years, with Brad teaching her to crawfish like a proper Louisianian, and Kellie creating some remarkable Mardi Gras costumes. Kellie and Brad have had an epic love story that has endured hurricanes, wildfires, breast cancer, multiple careers, raising children, and a long journey to restore her health. Kellie, always alongside Brad, built houses into warm homes to raise their girls, filled with art, big plants, books, music playing loudly, and gourmet food, both warm and generous hosts. Themes abound around her home of hearts, her love for family, earrings, science, sunflowers, color, history, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, flowers, and BOOKS. Kellie’s sweet little dog pack, Poppy, Tilly, and Daisy, were integral to her comfort and much loved.

Kellie attained a Master’s degree in her chosen lifelong profession as a middle school science teacher where she incorporated her visual art into science for her creative and entertaining lesson plans and instilled organizational skills into her students with a penchant for composition notebooks and colored markers.

After breast cancer treatment badly damaged her heart, Kellie agreed to participate in difficult but important medical research and longitudinal studies regarding her cancer and heart, so that doctors might be able to prevent those issues from harming others as it had her.

Kellie’s daughters were her center. Her pride in and love for them was expansive- she was their biggest supporter. Kellie’s generosity knew no bounds, she made family and friends feel loved and seen.

Kellie always had a creative solution, a space at her table, and a bit of wisdom to share. Kellie had a big colorful personality. She pursued her interests headlong, teaching herself to crochet during the months of chemotherapy, then to sew while living with her heart issues, adorning friends and loved ones’ homes in gorgeous, kaleidoscopic Afghans and quilts. She used color and pattern to make her pieces personal, and, like her, one of a kind.

Kellie’s legacy is her family most of all, culminating in her grandson’s love and expertise for dinosaurs and the natural world, every moment spent with him and her baby granddaughter being her driving motivation and heart’s desire.

Kellie and Brad moved to Washington State in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina where she continued teaching and raising her girls. Kellie retired when they settled in their Portland home, Sweetheart Acres, where she enjoyed caring for her grandkids, garden, chickens, and pups, all under a spectacular view of Mt. Hood.

Kellie was an exceptional sister and aunt, both fun and supportive. She and Korrie were inextricably important to each other as only siblings can be. Kellie led the way for others. She was a force- a fighter her whole life, showing us all to pick up and move forward, to be brave.

Kellie recently hung a sign in her kitchen which read, “Life is complicated. We do the best we can.” We are devastated by her loss, but feel her love “just a ways away”.

Celebrations of Life for Kellie are planned to be held in both Richland, Washington and LaPlace, Louisiana, later in the spring. The family has requested that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to The Autism Society of Oregon.