Highly intelligent, exquisitely polite, shy until provoked, heroine to her children, reliable friend to many, Ynes (“Eenie”) Mary Alastra Kelly passed after a short illness on January 3, 2019, less than two months shy of her 100th birthday.
Eenie lived like many children of pioneering Basque sheepmen. Born in a Basque boarding house in Ogden, Utah, her childhood was spent on the Alastra sheep ranches in Hazelton, Middle Mountain (south of Oakley), and in the northwest Utah mountains around Lynn, Utah. For elementary school, Eenie studied in the historic two room Greenwood schoolhouse near Hazelton. Owing to the remoteness of the Alastra ranches, Eenie boarded at Bilbao’s Basque boarding house in Twin Falls during high school and graduated with the Twin Falls High School.
Following high school, Eenie served as Secretary or Treasurer of several ladies social organizations, sang in St. Edward’s Choir, and played piano with friends. Adventurous, she learned to fly, enjoyed camping with friends, and danced the jota at Basque gatherings.
After graduation from Twin Falls Business School, she worked as a bookkeeper at C. C. Anderson department store and as secretary to Harry Eaton, president of the Twin Falls Bank and Trust. While working full time, she also served as a nurse’s aid at the hospital during the war, when there was a shortage of medical personnel.
In 1945, she married James Patrick Kelly, a tall, forceful Philadelphia Marine sergeant fresh from Fifth Defense Battalion, Second Marine Division battles at Funafuti and bloody Tarawa islands. That began a very different life for Eenie with the quick arrival of three children, homesteading east of Jerome, and helping in the family steel pipe and electrical contracting businesses. She taught Catechism for over twenty years in St. Jerome’s Parish. She sent three children to Harvard, and played a part in her two grandchildren Mary Louise and C.J. also graduating with Harvard degrees. She enjoyed listening to her granddaughter Mary Louise Kelly’s daily news anchor broadcasts on National Public Radio.
At age 60, she enrolled in the College of Southern Idaho, studying computers. She amused her younger classmates with wry commentary, much of it gleaned from twenty years as Chairwoman of the Jerome County Democratic Party, membership in the Idaho Democratic State Committee, and as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
After CSI, Eenie started computer bookkeeping at Gem Religious and later Gem State Trophy, where she kept the books until age 89. She won the U.S. Department of Labor Outstanding Idaho Senior Worker Award, given her with congressional fanfare in 2003.
Retiring in 2008, Eenie continued community service as a member and officer of the Twin Falls Board of Community Guardians. The Guardians attend to the financial and legal affairs of incapacitated seniors.
In retirement, Eenie maintained many active friendships. She faithfully attended yearly reunions and monthly luncheons of the Twin Falls High School Class of 1937 and of the Twin Falls Bank & Trust alumnae.
Eenie was preceded in death by her husband James Patrick Kelly, her parents Santiago and Francisca Alastra, brothers Jim Alastra (Pauline) and Luis Alastra (Essie). Eenie is survived by her son James P. Kelly, Esq. (Carol), Atlanta, GA, daughters Marie T. Kelly, M.D., Ft. Worth, TX, and Irene Kelly, Kensington, MD, grandchildren Mary Louise Kelly (Nicholas Boyle, Esq.), Washington, D.C., and C.J. Kelly (Jenn), Atlanta, GA, great grandsons James Cameron Boyle, Alexander Nicholas Boyle and Cache Field Kelly, nephew Donald Alastra (Jenelle), niece Donna Alastra Leopold, niece Valerie Dinkel (Matt), niece Stephanie Whittle (Jerry), and niece Janelle Severson, and friend Peg Alastra.
Eenie’s memorial services include a rosary prayer vigil at 7 p.m., Friday, January 11 at Parke’s Funeral Home, friends may call from 5 until 7 p.m. prior to the rosary at the funeral home, a funeral mass at 11 a.m., Saturday, January 12 at St. Edward’s Catholic Church by Father Joseph Lustig, and internment at Sunset Memorial Park. A reception will follow at St. Edward’s Parish Hall.
In lieu of flowers, family suggests memorial contributions be made in Ynes Alastra Kelly’s name to the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, 611 West Grove Street, Boise, ID 83702.