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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended June 18, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 15Jun00

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 spring.

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 District.

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," Bromert said.

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."


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