Obituary: Marina Dorothy Kelley, 19, of Chester

Marina Dorothy Kelley, center, with her parents Julie and Frank.

Marina Dorothy Kelley, 19, daughter of Frank and Julie Kelley and granddaughter of Richard and Brenda Dansingburg, all of Chester, passed away peacefully at her home on Saturday, March 14, 2020.

She lived her life with a unique genetic, neurological disorder, facing her challenges with a similarly unique flair.

Unable to walk, she played, skied, rode her favorite horse, Molly, participated in parades, traveled, stuck her toes in the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico and, in her younger days, hiked mountains, riding on her dad’s back.

Unable to talk, she taught people she met to be kind, to be helpful to others and to include everyone. She showed her love and affection in many, unique ways. She challenged all of us to do our best with a smile.

Her family was fortunate to have incredible support from their community, a community that Marina helped to build and enrich. The love she created made everyone who met her a bit better of a person.

Marina participated in the graduation ceremony at Green Mountain Union High School with her Class of 2019, receiving an honorary diploma and a standing ovation from the entire crowd.  Her family wishes to thank the students and staff at the Chester Preschool, Chester-Andover Elementary School and GMUHS for welcoming her and celebrating the gifts she was able to share.

Marina’s medical and home care team, including Denise King of Chester, who cared for her for 18 years, made her journey long and gentle, far exceeding the doctors’ best guesses as to her life expectancy. Through thick and thin, her team shared their wisdom, love and expertise.

The team from Vermont Pediatric Palliative Care allowed her to remain in her home to her last breath. The end of life support provided by Chester Police Department and the Chester Ambulance Squad made an incredibly difficult time more bearable.

Marina loved to go for walks and would encourage everyone to get outside, together. Often seen in her jog stroller on her dirt road, she brought smiles to many who stopped to say hello. Her Make-A-Wish trail, Marina’s Way, is icy and muddy yet available for folks to come out for a walk — two-legged and four-legged alike.

Marina showed us all that we can do so much to make the world a better place by simply reading books, sharing stories, singing, doing art projects together and holding hands. Marina reminds all of us that no matter what challenges you are facing, you can do anything if you take your friends along to help.

A celebration of Marina’s life will be held at the Marina’s Way trail in early summer.

Donations in Marina’s honor can be made to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports by clicking here or by mail to:

Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports
PO Box 139
Killington, VT 05751

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  1. DEBRA BEAUPRE says:

    Dear Frank, I am sorry you have lost your daughter who seems like such a special person. Peace be with you during this trying time.
    Love, Deb Beaupre

  2. Cindy Getchonis-Bayer Family says:

    Such big love for you all- Marina’s parents and extended family, loving caregivers, and the community in which Marina shared her gifts, as all were enriched in the mutual sharing of that love.
    What a beautiful life experience! And we are all so very sad for your loss.
    Our deepest sympathies from afar-
    Cindy, Curt and Sarah

  3. Nancie Lorenz says:

    What a love-filled, action packed life she lived!
    Sending love and condolences to Julie, Frank and all who loved her. May Marina’s sweet spirit sail on to new adventures.
    Nancie & Steve Lorenz

  4. Carlita Saunders says:

    We are so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts are prayers are with you Frank and Julie…Marina-a sweet, beautiful young lady who touched us all. Deepest sympathy.

  5. Mary Lopez says:

    I am very sorry for your loss Frank. I’m sure she was blessed to have you for a dad.

  6. Lillian Handren says:

    Julie & Frank, Thank you for allowing us to be part of Marina’s Life. It was an honor and a joy… she brought a smile to my face, just seeing her. Will love our angel forever! Lil & family

  7. Catherine Newborn says:

    We will keep Marina and her family in our thoughts and prayers. Beatrise was inspired by Marina’s strength and love of life. Lots of love – The Newborns

  8. Mike Silverman says:

    My thoughts are with the family, friends and community. So much life lived in those 19 years and so much love shared.

  9. Kerry says:

    Thank you for sharing Marina with the Vermont Association for the Blind for those years that we worked together. I learned so much from her and from you. Blessings and Peace as you celebrate her life.

  10. Greg and Teri Heppe says:

    So sorry for your loss, Frank. It was a wonderful write up and celebration of her life. We’ll put your family in our prayers.
    Teri and Greg

  11. Judy Cook says:

    Dear Frank and Julie,
    I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face. I am so sad, but so grateful for Marina’s peaceful last days. And I am so grateful for her beautiful life which you and she so lovingly shared with so many. I feel blessed that I was able to meet her in person and hold her when she was an infant, so tiny and precious. I feel blessed that I have been able to watch her grow (via Facebook) though all the wonderful opportunities her beautiful parents, extended family, and friends made happen. She was always held precious by everyone who knew her. Yes, Marina’s life made a remarkable difference in so many lives; her memory and her contributions to her community are such a tender legacy.
    Frank and Julie, I’m holding you both precious in my heart today.

  12. Greenberg Family says:

    Frank and Julie, we are so saddened to read this news but find comfort in knowing how much joy Marina brought to you and those around her. Your family is an inspiration to us all and Marina’s legacy will long outlive all of us. Sending you lots of love from Northern VT.

  13. Sarah M Rine says:

    To our dearest family XOXOX sending you all the love and good memories of this special girl. Your love went above and beyond, I am blessed to call you family and so proud and honored to have known Marina. Please do not hesitate to reach out with anything! Sending you virutal hugs through it all.

  14. Leah Mosenthal says:

    Thinking of you all and have been reminiscing about Marina so often, from our very first meeting the day she was born, to the infamous sledding parties… Such a unique and special life. With love from the Mosenthals

  15. Dearest Kelley Family,
    We send our loves and prayers to you. Marina was an amazing example of life and love.

    From the LeFevre Family.

  16. Ragnheather Bonnett says:

    She was an amazing young lady. I loved her so much. I remember helping with her path. I’m so sorry for the Kelleys. Love and condolences from the Bonnetts.