Sky Scene 07

Thomas E. Kelly DVM

July 23, 1934 ~ January 7, 2021 (age 86)

Obituary Image


Thomas Edgar Kelly DVM

An amazing man; so many different things to so many different people!

On Thursday, January 7, 2021 Tom, Doc, Dad, Grandpa, Papa, whatever you called him, died peacefully at the age of 86 in his bed surrounded by family. Tom was born in Freer, Texas and moved with his mother to the Gila Valley in Arizona at the age of nine. He graduated from Thatcher high school in 1953 and went on to attend Eastern Arizona College and Arizona State University before graduating from Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1961. He continued his education with a Masters of Public Health (MPH) from UCLA in 1965. With this educational background, he served Arizona as the Maricopa County Veterinarian for nearly 30 years and developed a comprehensive and groundbreaking rabies and animal control program modeled in many communities around the country. Additionally, he worked for many years and cultivated many lifelong relationships as the track veterinarian for Greyhound Racing in Arizona. Along with a multitude of skills and talents he was a wizard with food and an award winning cook who was just as comfortable cooking over a campfire as he was in a modern kitchen. In the 1980s he took over his late father-in-law’s custom lathe-turning hobby/ business and upon retiring from his Maricopa County veterinarian position in 1989, committed his full attention to woodworking and developing his business of Precision Wood Turning and custom lathe woodwork. His commitment to detail and inspiring work ethic created countless custom wood turnings throughout homes and businesses all over Arizona and the Southwest until he sold the business in 2012.  At that point, in addition to travel, hunting, fishing and family time, he stayed busy by focusing his charm and hard-working nature to volunteering over 500 hours of service at Maricopa County Hospital (now known as ValleyWise Health Medical Center) where his son worked as an emergency department physician.

Tom is survived by both his first wife, JoAnn Kelly and his second wife Lois Kelly. He is also survived by his daughter Kevin Ann Gillespie (Raul) and son Thomas E Kelly Jr. MD (Carly), as well as grandsons Anthony Gillespie and Karsten Kelly. Additional survivors include Lois’s children Diana (Dale) and Bill (Violeta), 10 stepgrandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

His kind and open heart touched, inspired and influenced so many who got the chance to know him. He is loved deeply by so many and missed by all who knew him. The world is a smaller place without this amazing, compassionate and loving man here in our presence to share it with us.

The current COVID 19 pandemic has unfortunately robbed us of our opportunity to pay homage to this marvelous man in a timely and in-person manner. Formal services to honor him have been postponed until they can be done safely. To help us respectfully pay tribute to him, we kindly ask that you click on “Tribute Wall” or “Share a Memory” and PLEASE leave a comment, story, favorite memory, photograph or message relating to your past relationship with Tom. Also, in lieu of flowers, Dr. Kelly respectfully requested donations to Hospice of the Valley who so compassionately helped us care for him in his final days.




You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or by planting a memorial tree in the memory of Thomas E. Kelly DVM


Hospice of the Valley
1510 E Flower Street, Phoenix AZ 85014
Tel: 1-602-530-6992

© 2021 Messinger Mortuary. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy