Pawnee: The rembrances on the website bring back memories from a long
time ago! They are touching and worthy of a great life. Here are
some of my thoughts about Kelly. I have edited the info and you may use any or all of it that you feel to be useful.
I don't remember how we got together to attend Utah State
Agricultural College (now USU) in Logan in September, 1946. He lived
in Prescott, having just returned from army service, and I was a green
17 year old just out of Prescott High School. Anyway, we loaded in
his car and drove northward. Upon arrival at USAC, the college was not ready for the heavy influx of returning vets and everywhere were unending lines. To
handle the student housing, the fieldhouse was divided into cubicles
and surplus army bunkbeds and blankets were provided for the men.
That was our first experience living together.
During the fall term, we found a room for rent south of the
campus in the Wakefield home at 220 Preston Ave. It was upstairs and
in walking distance, but we mostly went to school in Kelly's car, a
Chrysler product, I can't remember Dodge, DeSoto or Plymouth. Later
in life, as our family lived in Eugene, OR, the Nebeker family was in
our city. Maxine Nebeker was the sister of Melvin Wakefield.
I remember how Kelly and I started our relationship with the first girls at
school. It was one of the first days we were on campus. One of
the lines, of which there were many, was to get into the cafeteria for
lunch. As we mingled, Kelly started a conversation (he was very
able to do such!) with Rose Marie Schank from Fallon NV. She was with
3 roommates so there was a lot of getting acquainted. In fact,
Kelly dated Rose Marie before I did. I was the one who ended up
spending time with her. We were married in July 1950, after we
graduated from USAC.
I'll tell a couple of episodes in our lives together. In the fall of 1946, there was a Military Ball sponsored by the Military Science Dept. at a downtown dance hall. I had a date
with Rose Marie, later to be my wife. Because of the large increase
in ROTC enrollment, there were not enough uniforms to go around. They
were not a necessity, but I thought I would like to wear one. Kelly
was not going to the dance, so said he would share his uniform with
me! I was feeling pretty spiffy, and got to the dance and entered the
reception line. Kelly had served in the China-Burma-India theatre and
had on his uniform a distinctive CBI patch. All was well until we
encountered a general in the line who had the same CBI patch on his
shoulder! Of course he wanted to know about our common service
areas. I mumbled some response, but was very happy to have the
pressure of the line moving us along out of his sight. The rest of
the night was a little tense, but we were able to avoid any other
sightings of General CBI!
As I said, Kelly served in the CBI and I'm sure encountered a lot
of harrowing experiences in jungle combat. We went to a movie one
night, maybe "Guadalcanal" or some other fighting story. As the movie
opened, there was darkness, puncuated by machine gun fire, shouting
and a lot of loud noise. Kelly rose from his seat, strode up the
aisle and out the door. It was a cold night and he shoved his hands
in his pockets, and headed west on the sidewalk. He had trusted me
with a key to his car, so I quickly drove it to intercept his flight
at an intersection. I opened the door, got him in, and we went home.
He needed some guidance to get to bed, but went off to sleep. The
next day, I approached him about the events of the night before, and
he didn't remember anything about it. I'm sure the movie triggered
some response of experiences he had in his mind that he might have
been trying to forget or suppress.
Our experiences as students were largely positive and enjoyable.
I did have some doubts as to his perceived healing abilities! As we
would double date, he liked a roommate of Rose Marie's, Nola. Nola
was a little older than we, and might have been in the service. She
complained about headaches and neck pain, and Kelly would give her
neck and head various twisting and other chiropractic-like moves. I
cringed to think what the wrong move might mean to Nola, but she
seemed to survive, and I don't remember whether anything was effective
To help with expenses, we both got jobs in the cafeteria. We
spent many long hours gathering and washing dishes in the evening.
All for 75 cents an hour! But tuition was $35.00 per quarter, so
every little bit went a surprising distance.
He was very generous about letting me use his car for dates,
which I appreciated. We had a lot of associations at school, but his
art courses and my agricultural bent didn't cross much. We enjoyed
the car trips back and forth to Prescott for vacations and summer
trips. He was serious about life, and did a wonderful job in
presenting firesides to groups to share his life experiences and
testimony. As the school year ended, so did our association. I went
on to graduate, and only heard of him through people like my parents
as he married Melvina Nelson, daughter of their next door neighbor.
I was not aware of his fame as an artist, but enjoyed seeing his
work as a student. As I visited with Melvin Wakefield the other day,
he told me of an experience in Scottsdale, AZ. They were at an art
show, and he heard a group of ladies talking about wanting to obtain
paintings by Kelly Pruett. Wakefields said they saw his art, but
Kelly was not there.
Kelly was a unique individual and showed talent, but his renown has
surpassed any ideas I had then.