J. Keith Stell, 80, of Colorado Springs, Colorado and former Juneau, Alaska resident, passed away on July 27, 2017 after a seventeen-year battle with cancer. Keith was born on February 5, 1937 in Montrose, Colorado to James Marland Stell and Ruth Esther (Smith) Stell. He was primarily raised in Gunnison, Colorado and graduated high school there in 1955 after excelling in football and track. In 1955, he set a high school record in the 100-yard dash that held for nearly twenty years. As a youth, he was involved in the DeMolay organization and the Presbyterian Church. After two years in the U.S. Army as a Paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division, Keith spent the summer of 1961 in Juneau, Alaska working as a surveyor’s assistant on the road system. This launched his lifelong love of Alaska.
Keith returned to Colorado and attended college on a football scholarship at both Denver University and Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. He married Robbie Eggers in 1961, and they graduated from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado in 1963. In 1965, Keith received a National Defense Stipend to the University of Denver and graduated with a Master’s in Social Work, following which he moved with his wife and young daughter, Leslie, to Juneau to work for the Department of Corrections for the State of Alaska. Keith’s younger daughter, Laura, and son, Kevin, were both born in Juneau. He devoted his life’s work in Alaska to the field of Corrections, primarily Juvenile Corrections, but Adult Probation and Parole as well. He retired in 1991 as Chief of Probation and Parole for Southeast Alaska.
Keith was an avid skier all his life, starting on the slopes of Crested Butte, Colorado, and skiing all over the West and Pacific Northwest as his children were growing up. When Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau opened with the first lift in the 1970s, he resumed his love of alpine skiing, earning credentials as a Ski Coach and Ski Instructor. He and Robbie were very active with the Juneau Ski Club throughout the 1980s. He kept his coaching and instructor credentials current in order to continue skiing and instructing at Vail, Colorado until 2007. As his son, Kevin’s, competitive ski career evolved, Keith was active in ensuring top-notch training and moved to a number of ski resorts to help provide every opportunity for high-level coaching.
During his years in Juneau, Keith was also a coach with Gastineau Channel Little League. He was an avid hunter and fisherman and had a wide range of interests. At various times throughout his life, he was a floatplane pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a horseman, and a novice photographer. He was also a talented cook and enjoyed canning and preserving food for friends and family. He was a devoted Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies fan, and caught nearly every game, unless he was busy hunting or fishing. Keith loved dogs, always had one at his side, and is survived by his beloved German Shepherd, Tango. A passionate poet on occasion and avid reader always, Keith loved every book on the Wild West that he could find. He was a student of the history of the western U.S. and the “cowboy days”. Descended from settlers of the West, he proudly displayed Colorado Pioneer license plates, as he could trace his ancestry in Colorado back to 1872, prior to statehood.
Keith spent most of his retirement living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with frequent visits returning to Juneau, Alaska. He married Sharon Herrick in 2005, and learned to play golf. They traveled around the western United States and overseas, and are members of the Colorado Springs Country Club.
Keith is survived by his wife, Sharon (Herrick) Stell; his sister, Sharon (Stell) Cox of Montrose, Colorado; his daughters, Leslie (Matt) Scranton, and Laura Scholes of Juneau; and his son, Kevin (Dulcey) Stell, also of Juneau. Keith enjoyed his time with, and is survived by, his six grandchildren, Dillon (Samantha) Scranton and Dakota Scranton, Kye Scholes and Kate Scholes, and Ava Stell and Spencer Stell. He is also survived by his two stepchildren, Amy (Chris) Elnicki and Becky (Chris) Clabaugh; and five stepgrandchildren, Taylor Elnicki, Dillon Elnicki, Connor Clabaugh, Kendall Clabaugh, and Meredith Clabaugh.
Keith was preceded in death by his father, James Marland Stell and mother, Ruth Esther (Smith) Stell.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held, 1:00PM, Sunday, August 20, 2017 at the Colorado Springs Country Club, 3333 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80907.
Inurnment will be during a family service at the Shrine of St. Thérèse Columbarium in Juneau, Alaska.
In lieu of flowers, donations in the name of Keith Stell may be made to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, 610 Abbot Lane, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80905, or online at www.hsppr.org.