Two men who deserved each other
Ira Kelly and Clay Bader didn't know much about each other until after World War II, but their relationship became father and son, and later simply a deep respect for each other.
Ira Kelly was born July 24, 1895, in Mancos. His parents were Charles and Jennie Kelly. He grew up helping his father in his automobile business, and early on made trips to Mesa Verde with his father. He married Mary Cooper in June 1921.
In 1969 he was awarded the Man of the Year Award by the Southwest Livestock Association. He was a fifty-year member and Master of the Mancos Masonic Lodge. He was chairman of the Mancos Water Conservancy District from its beginning until 1969. He also served two terms as Montezuma County Commissioner and was the Mancos school board president from 1939-1950.
Ira had a daughter by the name of Jean, and this is where we meet Clay Bader. Jean was born Dec. 23, 1922, and grew up on the Kelly Ranch north of town and lived there for 73 years. The ranch had been purchased in 1927 from Frank Hallford, a Mancos barber.
Clay was born July 4, 1921, on the old Fort Lewis campus south of Hesperus. He attended school at the Fort for eight years and graduated in Durango. Jean first met Clay at the Fort in 1940-42 where she attended school for two years. Clay attended CSU, and graduated with a degree in agronomy. After his graduation in 1943 he went in the Navy. Clay and Jean were married in the fall of 1943. Clay spent two years in the South Pacific as a communications officer at New Caledonia.
Clay came to Mancos in 1945 where he settled down with Jean on the Kelly Ranch having been asked by his father-in-law if he wanted to work on the ranch.
Clay was a member of the Southwest Livestock Association board and was County Commissioner for four years. Like his father-in-law, Clay was a Mason and went on to become a 33rd degree Mason in the Scottish Consistory. He was Master of the Mancos Masonic Lodge three different times. He also served on the Mancos Water Conservancy Board for twelve years.
Clay and Jean were the proud parents of Margie (Russell) and Kelly. Margie had two daughters and a son. Rachel was married this past Saturday. Margie's son Kent is teaching school in Alaska. When Kent became a Master Mason Clay felt it was one of the highest honors in his life. He was more than just proud of his grandson.
Jean said Clay was a loving and quiet husband, father and valley resident and said, "I have missed him dearly since he passed away in August of 2012."
I stacked hay on the Kelly ranch one summer, and learned to respect both Clay and Ira. I also enjoyed the dinners that Jean and her mother, Mary, cooked and served.
Darrel Ellis is a longtime historian of the Mancos Valley. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.