Hearts Love 13

Kelly Joan Egan

October 8, 1944 ~ June 22, 2021 (age 76)


Kelly Egan PhD

Kelly was born to Edward and Dorothy Egan (nee Snavely) in Harrisburg, PA the first of three children, followed by Tom and Mike.  Her father was in the US Air Force and the family moved every 2 years.  Kelly attended three high schools.  

An avid and accomplished student and reader Kelly attended Texas Midwestern University graduating with a BA in 3 years.  She then taught Middle School for a couple of years and married David Nelson.  Kelly followed David to Texas Technical University in Lubbock where she graduated with a Masters in English Literature.   Kelly then moved to Seattle when David accepted a position at Boeing.

In 1970 Kelly’s twin sons, James and Joel were born.  David and Kelly divorced in 1979 and Kelly took on the challenge of being a single mother.  

Despite her diminutive size Kelly was a strong person and was ever one for new challenges and adventures.  As an example, while a single Mom, Kelly enrolled in the very competitive PhD Program at the UW School of Psychology, graduating with her PhD in 1980.

Kelly’s first professional appointment was in the UW Nursing School.  In 1983 she moved to the UW School of Medicine to be one of the pioneers in providing clinical services and doing research in the Dept. of Anesthesiology’s Chronic Pain Management and Acute Pain Programs.  Professionally Kelly was author and co author on many scientific papers as well as authoring and co authoring several book chapters and books.  

Taking on new challenges, in the late 90s Kelly became the UW Faculty Representative to the State Legislature and, after completing yet another degree, a Masters in Health Administration, left academia for medical consulting. As her final challenge in 1999 she was appointed as Director of Mental Health Services for the State Dept of Corrections in Olympia, a position she held until her retirement in 2006.  

Kelly was a devoted mother and a staunch believer in the value and necessity of education and travel.  Kelly, as a single Mom, took her boys to Mexico, Tahiti and around Europe for six weeks.  Kelly was very gratified and took great pride in her sons’ progress thru Batchelor’s, Master’s degrees, starting their careers, marrying and starting their own families.   Joel has two daughters and James has a daughter and two sons.

Kelly married fellow Faculty Peter Buckley MD in 1993.  They Initially made their home in Madrona moving to West Seattle in 2007 for Kelly’s long desired view of the Sound, and to be near her sons.  Kelly and Peter shared a long and happy marriage, were best friends and confidants and enjoyed all their many joint experiences.  Kelly and Peter had a happy domestic life in their Seattle houses and weekends at their cabin in Grapeview. In particular Kelly loved the West Seattle house, its neighborhood, view and proximity to Lincoln Park and her sons and their families.   Kelly and Peter were always careful to accommodate each other’s professional career needs and personal wishes.  Kelly accepting Peter’s absences on sabbatical, walking the Camino Santiago and teaching in Africa.  Peter accepting Kelly being on the road when consulting or working in Olympia.  

In marrying Peter Kelly found a similar travel enthusiast.  They enjoyed multiple domestic and foreign trips, both before and after their retirement.  Kelly loved the small spaces of trains and enjoyed train trips across the US and Canada, the Siberian Express, Northern Spain, the Australian Ghan and the Glacier Express in Switzerland. They enjoyed multiple foreign trips to most of Europe and Britain, Australia, Poland, Russia, Egypt, the Galapagos and Kelly’s favorite - a safari in Tanzania.  But they were always happy to return to the bosom of their house, their dogs and family.

Kelly loved animals, volunteering at the Seattle Animal shelter and training as a Veterinary Assistant.  She bred cats, and had several dogs  – a German Shepherd Sarah, her beloved Havanese Buffy and, most recently another Havanese, Bonita.  The dogs were her constant companions at home and while reading or writing.  Poor Bonita is bereft at the absence of “her woman.”

Kelly loved to read, and did so voraciously, often found on the couch, with the dogs, engrossed in a book.  Despite all the other calls on her time Kelly was an accomplished artist, knitter and quilter.  She and her cousin Judy could never drive by a quilting shop and would return laden with fabrics.

Kelly formed and maintained long standing friendships from High School and graduate school.  She was never happier than meeting with those friends for a spirited conversation, glass of red wine in hand.

Kelly’s health deteriorated in her last year.  Kelly’s wish was to be to be cared for by her family and husband, at home with her couch, books, dogs and family and this wish was achieved.  Kelly died at home with her family.

Thanks to the UWMC medical and nursing staff, especially Eliza Sutton MD,  for helping make it possible to care for Kelly at home and to Synergy Home Care and Providence Hospice for their help.


A private funeral has been held. Later this year a Celebration of Kelly’s life will be held. In honor of Kelly donations to the Seattle Animal Shelter in her name would be appreciated.

To share your condolences and memories of Kelly with Family and Friends, please visit her Tribute Wall, located above. 



- Care and Arrangements Entrusted to Emmick Family Funeral Home -


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