Summarized by Kent Larsen
Late AZ Educator and Glendale Stake President Remembered
(Late educator showed leadership without ego)
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 14Jun00 P2
By Connie Cone Sexton: The Arizona Republic
PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- LDS Church member Raymond Kellis, called an
"educational cornerstone," died Thursday, June 8th of an apparent heart
attack. Kellis, a long-time educator and superintendent of the Peoria Unified School
District, was also President of the Glendale Arizona stake of the LDS Church
for 10 years. He was 70 years old.
At his funeral on Monday, more than 1,000 people gathered to hear
about Kellis' legacy, which was demonstrated in his clear sense of
leadership, unencumbered by ego, according to friends and colleagues.
Kellis begain his career in the school district in 1957 as a science
teacher at Peoria High School. He eventually led the School District for 17
years, and served a term as president of the state Board of Education. After
he retired in 1995, Kellis returned last December to fill-in as interim
superintendent until a new superintendent could be hired this past
Long-time educators remembered Kellis for his desire to make changes
without leaving anyone at a disadvantage. He struggled in the 1970s when the
district was under attack by residents of Sun City, maintaining his
composure even though they voted down bond issue after bond issue,
refusing to pay for improvements to the schools. Eventually, Sun City, which
is mainly a retirement community, was taken out of the Peoria School
Educators in the West Valley community expressed sadness at his
passing, Paseo Verde Elementary School principal Patricia Burckhard said,
"Dr. Kellis has always been a mentor and a leader. He had a quiet, unassuming way
about him. He always made you feel valued. He could go into a room full of
10 people to 1,000 people, and every single person would come away
feeling important and valued as educators."
Linda Bromert, an administrator recently named principal of Frontier
Elementary, said she remembered Kellis for his compassion, especially
for his help as she struggled with the unexpected death of her son,
"He made the effort to return and visit with me and deal with that loss,"
Kellis' hiking buddy Richard Warnick also remembered his friend,
"We were more than hiking buddies. He was my best friend," Warnick said.
"Ray Kellis is the finest man I've ever known in my life in his capacity as a
father, a husband, a church leader, educator and friend."