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Updated Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 05:30 PM

Longtime Times columnist Kelley retiring this month

By Emily Heffter
Seattle Times staff reporter

In 30 years as a Seattle Times sports columnist, Steve Kelley has documented countless great sports moments at Husky Stadium and the Kingdome, at World Series games, Super Bowls and nine Olympics.

But he still feels excitement before every game, he said.

Kelley, 63, is retiring this month. He started writing for The Seattle Times in 1982.

"I feel like I've seen every kind of game and written every kind of column," said Kelley. "In 30 years, I've seen it all."

Not bad for a guy who realized at age 11 that his NBA hoop dreams were misguided.

"Steve has offered a courageous, intelligent and provocative take on Seattle sports for more than three decades," said Times Executive Editor David Boardman. "Over that time, he has made our readers laugh, he's made them cry, he's made them spit out their coffee — and he's made them write a few thousand emails either in support of or in opposition to his viewpoint. But most importantly, he's always made them think. We, and our readers, will miss him."

Kelley said he loves the drama of sports. It's still thrilling to relate to high-school players and to watch "the guys who are the best at what they do."

The first time Kelley walked into The Seattle Times, he was a forklift driver looking for a writing job. He arrived unannounced to see former Managing Editor Jim King in 1973, and the two hit it off. King helped Kelley get a job at the Centralia Daily Chronicle.

Kelley returned in 1982 to cover the Sonics for The Times. A year later, he started writing columns.

"Being a sports columnist is a difficult job that requires passion and hard work despite the toughest deadlines in the newsroom, mind-numbing travel and the ability to react to breaking news 24/7," said Seattle Times Sports Editor Don Shelton.

Kelley plans to travel, golf and take on some writing projects in his retirement. He will also volunteer, something he has done for years for Special Olympics and Children's Hospital.

He teaches fourth-grade writing classes at Maple Elementary, and he wants to be an assistant high-school basketball coach.

His farewell column will run Feb. 3.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @EmilyHeffter


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