Jack Kelley has seen a lot happen in Fall City in his 78 years, and he’s written about much of it. In 2006, he published “Jack’s History of Fall City,” which tells some of Kelley’s own stories, along with history from before his time.
Kelley said he took on writing the large volume in order to “set the record straight” on Fall City’s story, and he’s been getting some recognition for his work.
In April, the Association of King County Historical Organizations awarded Kelley with the Virginia Marie Folkins Award for an outstanding publication.
Julie Koler, a historic preservation officer for King County, joined several colleagues in raving about the book.
“This is the most comprehensive account of Fall City history to date,” Koler stated. “It is a gem of a contribution to King County history, which just about anyone would find great delight in – for its themes are universal and its appeal is to the heart.”
Close to Kelley’s heart is the town where he’s spent all but two decades of his life. Many of those years were lived in his current home, which he recently saw designated as a historic landmark.
“At the breakfast table, my mom and dad talked about Fall City. I soaked in some of it,” he said. “I like the town; I like the people.”
One of his gifts to his neighbors has been reflections of the town’s past.
Kelley started jotting down some stories while vacationing on a Hawaii beach in 1989, when he retired from his career as a Boeing engineer. He published many of those stories under the title “Life and Times of a Small Town Kid” in the early 1990s.
Later, Kelley turned his attention to writing “a more accurate history — something more like a textbook.”
He spent countless hours interviewing townspeople, poring over primary records and reading microfilmed Valley Record articles.
“History is valuable to anybody. Without history, you don’t have any backbone to hold you straight up,” Kelley said.
Ruth Pickering, the book’s editor and president of the Fall City Historical Society, said she especially appreciated Kelley and his wife Judy’s work digitizing local records, including documents from census polls, cemeteries and schools.
“Those are really the backbone of our reference library,” she said.
Pickering added that the Kelleys gave locals a collection point for precious artifacts before the historical society got up and running.
“They have encouraged people to save things that are important to Fall City’s history,” she said.
In 2003, Kelley led efforts to add the historical names of Fall City roadways to street signs.
He has also worked for Fall City’s future, pushing for the creation of a parks commission.
“It’s important to get local control of parks,” he said. “I would like to see a community center and a children’s playground.”
• “Jack’s History of Fall City,” which will soon have its third printing, is available at The River’s Edge gift shop in Fall City.
• Do you know Valley residents who deserve recognition for their good work? Nominate them for Citizen of the Week, an award co-sponsored by the Valley Record and Replicator Graphics. Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (425) 888-2311.