HUDSON, Wis. (WCCO) — The town of Hudson is remembering two of their own Tuesday night.
The well-known couple was killed in a car crash over the weekend. It happened around 10:45 p.m. Saturday about 12 miles east of Taylors Falls. It was in Polk County, Wis., on Highway 8 near Highway 46.
Deputies are trying to figure out a cause. They say the couple’s car crossed the road and hit several trees.
The loss of Don and Robin Kelley leaves a hole in a tight-knit family, and a tight-knit town.
It’s business as usual at Kelley Gallery in Hudson. But nothing there will ever be the same. After 33 years of curating local art, the man at the helm is gone. And so is his beloved wife.
“It’s just too much, two great people, Don and Robin, it’s just heartbreaking,” Friend and fellow business owner Sarah Bruch said.
Don Kelly was known as a mentor to many in downtown Hudson, including Sarah Bruch from the Purple Tree Shop.
“Leader in the arts, really worked to bring awareness to local artists and was super passionate about what he did,” Bruch said.
And he was super passionate about the woman he loved. The 60-year-old Don and 54-year-old Robin married less than two years ago. It was a late in life love story from the beginning.
“You could just see the romance blooming and the absolute happiness and joy they got to enjoy with each other,” Bruch said.
Five kids between them, and endless love. Just last week, Don had started a holiday spa experience at his neighboring business.
“We didn’t even get to Halloween yet and he was already starting to plan some Christmas gifts. Just shows how thoughtful Don was,” friend and fellow business owner Nick Raehsler said.
A man known for installing art in the Xcel Energy Center, and running two galleries and frame shop, Don knew how to spot art that was valuable and a love that was priceless.
“I guess that’s the comfort that we can look at for the moment. They died in complete love with each other,” Bruch said.
A visitation is planned for the couple on Thursday. It will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the O’Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson.
One of Don’s close friends, Pete Foster, who owns San Pedro Café, shared these words with WCCO about his friend:
“I have known Don and his family since the late 1980’s — working and living in the Hudson Area. He was a very positive, creative, well respected business owner, a huge part of our local downtown community and a good friend to many. He was instrumental in helping me with many projects and renovations of three local restaurants. We always enjoyed working with him and trusted his creative eye on many occasions. He and Robin were always so supportive and kind to our family- that is something I will be forever grateful for. They truly cared for others and wished success for the small independent businesses in our community. I think the entire Hudson Community is grieving with the Kelley Family. It is such a shock to have a tragic and sudden loss in our tight knit Community. Don’s talent and genuine caring for his customers, neighbors and friends will be greatly missed. Don and Robin will be remembered fondly and missed by all of us.
Don’s sister, Barb, who also works at the gallery says the family is deeply saddened and also deeply proud of the lives so well lived.
“He was, is larger than life,” Barb said.