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Lobbyist Mike Kelly passes away

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 by Jo Clifton

Mike Kelly, a staunch liberal Democrat who lobbied not only for paying clients but also for people whose causes he believed in, passed away on Tuesday, just three days before his 73rd birthday. His death was caused by a pneumonia-related illness following treatment for cancer. Kelly used his political skills to help elect Democrats in Oklahoma at a time when Oklahomans would still vote for Democrats. He and his wife, Teresa, moved to Austin, where he worked at the Texas Legislature for then-Sen. Hugh Parmer and later as a lobbyist. State Rep. Donna Howard said via email: “I’ve had the good fortune of knowing Mike for many years. He helped steer me in my initial run as a state representative and has been a dear friend and source of witty counsel. I will miss him and am holding his family in my heart.” Other friends noted that he was always willing to help younger people understand the workings of the Texas Legislature. Most recently, he worked in Bastrop for property owner Robert Leffingwell. He also spent many hours in the last few months trying to help Eddie Wilson, the owner of Threadgill’s, to ensure that the restaurant would retain a spot on the current property after it is redeveloped. Journalist and political consultant Glenn W. Smith said he had known Kelly since Kelly came to Austin. “He’s always been engaged. … Mike has kept all variety of different groups of people in our political town in contact with each other because he got along with everybody. … He grew up in Houston not far from me, although he was older. He’s been a loyal friend, entertaining – a man about town. His friendships cross all kinds of different political groups and personalities. He always seemed to know what was going on everywhere. And he was honest to a fault, which you really appreciate in a political town.” Kelly is survived by his wife, their daughter Kate, one grandson and many friends. His family is planning private services this week, with a memorial celebrating Mike’s life to be held later this spring. In lieu of flowers, the family has established a memorial in Mike’s name at the Girls Empowerment Network, PO Box 3122, Austin, TX 78764 or

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