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A Tribute to Lee Kelton

Lee Kelton working with the Nature Leaders

Lee Kelton working with the Nature Leaders

Lee Kelton, a longtime volunteer at Twelve Hills, passed away last weekend. A Kings Highway resident, Lee was involved with Twelve Hills early on, helping clear the land of debris to prepare for the Nature Center.

Lee was part of the teaching team for the Rosemont Elementary School fifth-grade Nature Leaders and I think this was one of his favorite activities. Lee brought his sense of fun to the program, benefitting the students and adults alike. His rapport with the kids was wonderful to watch, part of the magic he made from equal parts tolerance, gentleness, wit, caring, and experience as a dad and granddad. He was a favorite mentor for all the Nature Leaders, they all wanted to work with him. Lee Kelton offered his students a wonderful example of being a leader on behalf of nature.

Lee rescued and planted native grasses, removed invasive plants, helped with nature walks and activities, open houses, the fundraiser, wherever there was a need. He was a friend and an integral part of our volunteer team who always lent a hand and a story.

We’ll dearly miss Lee.

 

Remarks and quotes from friends

 

I met Lee Kelton 25 years ago. That puts me in the “new-ish” category of friendships for him since he spent his life gathering new friends and keeping them because once you were graced with his friendship you made sure not to lose it. Lee’s gregarious nature and sense of fun; his loyalty and kindness; his energy and helpfulness …. all of these attributes and more made our lives better, made us smile a lot more.

He and his wife, Lybo, threw the best parties ever. But they aren’t just about fun. Their incredible volunteer work for a LONG list of non-profit organizations is hard to match. I was lucky to work with Lee on one such project because of our shared interest in environmental education. Through the North Texas Master Naturalists we both became involved with the Nature Leaders program, an after school course offered by Rosemont Elementary and Twelve Hills Nature Center.

The Nature Leaders program is offered to select Rosemont fifth-graders to study earth sciences in an outdoor classroom — the prairie reclamation project at Twelve Hills. Not only do the students learn about integral parts of a prairie habitat but they also learn leadership skills to help them become good stewards of the environment.

A core group of NTMN volunteers administers the five-month-long Nature Leaders course and Lee was an integral part of the group. Not only did he co-lead some lessons, he was always ready to assist with whatever the classes needed — providing equipment, outreach trunks, class setup and assistance. He was unflagging and unhesitatingly ready to offer a hand.

Lee brought his sense of fun to the program, benefiting the students and adults alike. His rapport with the kids was wonderful to watch, part of the magic he made from equal parts tolerance, gentleness, wit, caring, and experience as a dad and granddad. He was a favorite mentor for all the Nature Leaders, they all wanted to work with him.
Lee Kelton offered his students a wonderful example of being a leader on behalf of nature. He inspired his NTMN peers with his astounding work ethic. And to the world he exemplified what true friendship is. There are so many affected by his death …. family, friends, neighbors, volunteers …. but the lessons Lee taught us will live on.

Shannon Love


 

Lee was involved with Twelve Hills from the very beginning, cleaning up debris from the apartments and other things too. From the time he became a Master Naturalist, class of 2012, he took part in all Twelve Hills volunteer projects. He annually taught Nature Leaders, helped us restore the prairie, hauled things, represented Twelve Hills at open houses, helped with Grape Expectations, and any need that came up. He would surprise me by anticipating needs and showing up with laminated posters, maps, fossils, books, or a truck full of Little Bluestem, all of which went to good use.. He always wanted to bring the water wagon that belonged to the LANDS program for the Nature Leaders to experience. We never had a year we could fit it into the schedule.

Lee loved working with our fifth-grade Nature Leaders and was on our team since I can remember. The students loved him. Every year a group of boys coalesced around Lee, he called them his posse. They wanted Lee for their teacher when we broke into smaller groups. He engaged them with fascinating stories about nature while teaching content. They had fun and came away with an appreciation of the natural world. If I see any of the former posse members in passing, they always ask where Lee is.

Lee always had a twinkle in is eye, and contributed his time and wonderful spirit to so many other worthy projects, I don’t know how he fit it all in. He was highly involved with planning the Irish Festival as well as the Master Naturalists booth there, Oak Cliff Earth Day and the MN Booth there, he helped with the educational trunk management, and always made time to help at Texas Discovery Gardens. Lee was a nonstop source of good in the community.

Marcie Haley


 

I only just befriend Lee last year, though I lived just a few blocks down for the last three years. I met him with the Master Naturalists and quickly realized he was “my people.” Sitting with him in the back of classes was always fun. It was like sitting with the class clown at school. He was so funny and had a hilarious remark to add to everything.

He was whip smart and was so knowledgeable about land management, native plants, and generally how to get things done. I’m going to miss him dearly and will carry on a piece of him every time I work at Twelve Hills.

Samantha Knight


 

Neighbor died last night.
A Master Naturalist.
Loved to work the soil.

He tended gardens,
parks, and the nature preserve
in our neighborhood.

Gregarious. Wry.
Volunteered at schools, teaching
children botany.

My wife loved him.
He taught her which flowers to
plant to help our bees.

Fitting that in death,
his final act will be to
feed the plants once more.

Drew Crownover

 

Read the North Texas Master Naturalist remarks.