Kathleen Mary “Kelly” Moorse died peacefully on January 2, 2019. Born on May 8, 1948, in Marshall, Minnesota, Kelly moved with her family to Fort Benton, Montana, when she was three years old. She graduated from Montana State University with a bachelor’s degree in education and received her master’s degree in theology and communication from Aquinas Institute in Dubuque, Iowa.
Kelly began her career establishing religious education programs in the Catholic parishes of Anaconda, Montana, and St. Michael’s in Prior Lake, Minnesota. She found her way to Helena, Montana, in 1977, where she began working for the State of Montana in various roles, including Program Manager for the Mental Disabilities Board of Visitors. She continued her advocacy for those with mental disabilities in the private sector with Magellan Behavioral Health Corporation and Montana Community Partners. Regardless of where Kelly worked, her passion to protect vulnerable people showed.
Kelly had many talents, but retiring was not one of them. She retired twice from the State and returned under contract as a Program Consultant for the Office on Aging, conducting legal document clinics throughout the state. She worked zealously on behalf of others all the way to her death.
Very active in the Helena community, Kelly served and donated to many local non-profit organizations. In her volunteer work, as well as her job, some of her favorite moments were spent teaching and mentoring young people in the work she loved.
Kelly loved to travel, especially when there was a wine trail, food tour, museum, or art event involved. She spoke fondly of her first night at her host family’s home in Mexico in the early 1960s, when an entire rabbit was plopped down in front of her for dinner. She and her husband Jim traveled through the United States and Europe, usually with their bicycles. One of her most memorable European trips was to France and Belgium with her dad and sister. Her dad, Grandpa Joe, gave a guided tour of several World War II battle sites where he served. There were also many treasured trips with her nieces, nephews, and godchildren. On two occasions, while traveling with friends, she made impromptu road trips back from Texas after buying so much wine it couldn’t be shipped.
Her other passion was cooking. Kelly spent several years cooking in her “free time” at Benny’s Bistro and on many special occasions for her family. She also catered many special events around Helena with her catering partner, Jeff Spurlin. You could always rely on Kelly for a good recipe, and her favorite calls were from family and friends asking for the specific instructions of how to make the signature Moorse Belgium Cookie Recipe just right, or the best way to get the potica dough thin enough.
Part of what made Kelly so special was her ability to connect with people. She touched people’s lives all across the state of Montana, and especially in Helena. Her family was always amazed by the number of people Kelly knew throughout the state, and eventually most people in Montana could be connected through “the three degrees of separation of Kelly.”
Kelly was preceded in death by her husband, Jim Farrell, her parents, Joe and Mary Moorse, an infant brother, William Joseph, and her close friend, Matthew Dale.
Kelly is survived by her two sisters, Theresa Fellows (Lyman) and Mary Jo Mattocks (Steve); one brother, Bill Moorse (Julie); two nieces, Stephanie Murray (Nick) and Kayla Sherwood (Andrew); and two nephews, Brian Mattocks and Cody Moorse (Lauren). She is also survived by four great nephews (Blake, Caleb, Logan, and Clayton); all her very special godchildren; and her world traveling partner, Linda Laitner.
At her core, Kelly was a kind, strong woman with a great laugh. She had a knack for making all people feel welcome. She certainly did Fort Benton proud.
A celebration of Kelly’s life will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, June 22, 2019 at the Holter Museum of Art, 12 E Lawrence St., Helena. Memorials in Kelly’s honor may be made to the Friendship Center, 1430 Sanders, Helena, MT 59601; the Lewis and Clark Library Foundation, 120 South Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601; or a memorial of choice.
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