This letter is from Jane Dunn, a cousin of Kelly's written to his brother Lewis
I am sorry to hear this, as I have fond memories of my "cowboy" cousin.
Only with Kelly have I sat in a tepee and visited. His painting hangs over
our bed here in Arkadelphia and his pen and ink of my father, that he gave
to Mother in 1968, hangs over my desk here in my office.
I know you hate that he was there alone for a while, but, you know, he
would have rather been there than in a hospital. He was doing what he loved
to do and was out in the open air when he had his heart attack. That is a
comfort, that he was doing what he loved to do to the very end. As for the
funeral, I sometimes think that I would rather my family have a party and
talk about the things we did together.
Give Susi and hug for me and let Pawnee Jewell know that she is in our
This incredibly beautiful letter was written to Lewis from his granddaughter (Kelly's grand-niece?)
Thank you for the beautiful letter. I was very sad yesterday when I was told the news of Kelly's passing by my mom. He was (and is) a great man and I have always looked up to and admired him. The summer I shared with him up at Piney was one of the greatest summers of my life. I have never known such a self-less man. He touched my heart very deeply.
Kelly had the gift of being captivated by the beauties of this earth; to be swept up into purple skies and warm rain. He delighted in desert breezes and rolling mountains. Now, Kelly has the magnificent blessing of admiring heavenly landscapes. I hope he is happily surprised that the beauty of the next life is even greater than anything he experienced here on Earth.
Maybe the dogs that he loved so greatly and that have passed on already are enjoying his company right now. I hope so.
I love you Wow. I pray for you as you handle this loss. I also pray in gratitude to my Heavenly Father that I was so remarkably privileged to have known this great man.
This Letter from Kelly's brother Vernon
Dear Brother Lewis and Suzi,
Thank you for calling about Kelly. You always take on the responsibility of letting the
family know what is going on. I have always admired that in you and want you to know
that I really have appreciated it over the years.
There is a lot that can be said about our brother Kelly. He was his own person.
He was sometimes larger than life. Bold and extremely creative. He was a true romantic
and seemed to make life romantic and exciting for those around him. He always longed
to be spiritual and live in another dimension, not of this world. I believe that his journey
has now arrived there, and I hope he feels a great sense of satisfaction and joy.
I know you will recall, Lewis, that Kelly was always kind to us when we were young.
Remember, he wanted Mother and you and I to come to Prescott after we left the
farm. He was living in a trailer, hardly big enough for his own family, but he invited us
in. And, he tried very hard to make a living for us and his own family. And when Mother
went on her wanderings and I had no place to go, he invited me come to the ranch down
by Pecos and I had the chance to be a real cowboy for one great summer.
After you and I started back to school in Prescott, he would frequently come by to see us.
He seemed to always want to make sure we were OK. Likewise, he came by when I was
in college and invited me up to the ranch that he managed in Northern Arizona.
And then, after I got out of the Air Force and was struggling to find my way, he invited
me to come into business with him. I spent four glorious years with him and Donna.
We lived the life of movie stars, went to Rome, saw Italy up close, and toured much
of the United States with Kelly's art. And, he traded one of his great paintings for an
airplane, which he gave to me.
He was always kind and thoughtful and went to great pains to try to teach the people
around him a better way of life. I treasure the many, countless hours we spent reading
and talking of spiritual ways. And, I think Kelly tried to live a spiritual and good life.
And, of course, it goes without saying, he was a great artist. Had he not been so
against art organizations, he could have become wealthy as a member of the
Cowboy Artists Of America Association. Back in the 60's they invited them to join
as a charter member, but he turned then down.
He left the world with great treasure: So many beautiful paintings, sculptures, books,
teachings and the remembrance of his own bright spirit. I think he was greatly blessed
and he greatly blessed those around him, including me.
Thanks again, Brother and Suzi, for being the messenger. I'll write another letter soon.
Love - Vernon
This letter is also from Kelly's brother Vernon to Lewis
Dear Brother, Lewis,
What a magnificent tribute to our brother. Beautifully written - I know Kelly would have liked to have read it.
Yes, it is a sad time. Even though I have not seen, nor spoken to Kelly for over twenty years, his passing leaves an huge emptiness in my life, as well. I'm surprised about that -- somehow.
I suppose, just knowing he was still "out there", doing his thing, was a comfort. And, also, I always took some joy in knowing that all the brothers were still alive and well. Although, I knew it could not last forever. Dorothy said she was surprised that Kelly had passed away, as he seemed so "eternal".
It is good to know that Kelly was doing what he loved, just before he passed away. It wasn't in some WWII foxhole, nor on one of those countless miserable ranches that he worked on over the years, or in some crowded city, nor in an airplane, which he hated. I find some profound comfort in knowing he was with his dogs, his horses and his sheep, all of which he loved.
I am not surprised that Kelly chose to be buried, with no fuss and no ceremony. That 100% pure A. Kelly Pruitt. Despite his artist's way of life, he was truly a private person - even to the end.
I agree with you, Lewis, he will be greatly missed, even from afar. I did love Kelly, as I know you did. And, I treasure the wonderful times we all had together.
Keep well, Brother.
Love - Vernon
I just found your letter in my computer! I want to tell you that you touched my heart! Thank you so much for this very nice letter! It made me feel so much better!
These last years I grew very close to Kelly. He was such a great spirit. He taught me a many good lessons. He was a person of great character, so humble, so kind and thoughtful to others, so caring and giving. Of course I always liked his good humor and shared so many good laughs with him.
When I felt so down and ugly when I was in Taos Hospital I got the biggest surprise of my life! They just dragged me out of bed with my two new replaced knees and dumped me in my pain and misery on a chair and I could have screamed from pain and in walked Kelly! Kelly who said, he would never enter a hospital! Kelly who hated the thought of hospitals. It was hard to believe it was him, cowboy hat and his cute smile. I forgot all the pains. He visited for over an hour, and I learned so much about him then, he told me about his disappointments, about his joys about his hopes.
Oh, how I learned to really love and appreciate him, and now I'm so glad to read your kind words about him. Thank you Vernon, for being so special to write that wonderful letter!
Let's keep in touch! Susi