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Obituary - Kelley Lash
Kelley Lash
Kelley Lash, mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, mentor, adviser, advocate, journalist and connoisseur of boy bands, passed away February 21 after a lifelong bout with delightfulness. Her lone flaw was a lousy sense of timing in departing so unexpectedly and leaving so many friends and loved ones wishing for one more chat or hug or unexpected card in the mail.
    Born June 15, 1975, Kelley was a consummate student and teacher of journalism and had served as the director of Student Media at Rice University in Houston since 2010.
    Were she to edit these passages in person, she would likely strike any reference to herself as a transformational figure and unceasing advocate for her students, probably because the description is too broad and imprecise. She would insist, in the nicest way, on concrete language and supporting details. A revision noting her service as the president of the College Media Association from 2015–2017 would clarify the initial statement, as would testimonials from students and colleagues concerning her tireless commitment to her students and good journalism.
    The profanities of those she helped thwart in their attempts to curb the press freedoms of her students and publications will echo long after her passing. (She would almost surely strike the last sentence as too hyperbolic, but she is not here to do so, compounding the void of her passing by another infinitesimal degree.)
    Before her service at Rice, Kelley held the same position at her alma mater, Georgia Southern University, from 2007–2010, taking the place of her lifelong friend and mentor, Bill Neville. Kelley had come full circle after serving in multiple roles as an undergraduate in student media, including as the editor in chief of the university’s student newspaper, the George-Anne, from 1998–2000.
    Kelley earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature from Georgia Southern in 2000 and 2006, respectively.
    Kelley’s love for Georgia Southern was complete from her first visits to the campus to the unfettered chaos of life on Donaldson Street to her balancing act as the young mother of Riley (alongside Tommy Callaway) while she completed her advanced degree and served as a graduate assistant in Student Media from 2004–2006.
    A job alone does not a delightful person make. Kelley had more than friends. She forged real relationships and maintained them over months, years and decades. Kelley kept alive the tradition of physical correspondence with abundant notes, many written on perfect homemade cards, which she routinely mailed out as a reminder of her love or a note of encouragement. The missives were just one of the multitude of ways Kelley reminded her friends of her devotion to them.
    She would also set up “phone dates,” which could stretch into hours of conversation, laughter, tears or thorough media deconstruction.
    In person, Kelley created a space around her where anyone could feel comfortable. She helped forge new friendships between her friends and introduced future spouses to one another. She had ample assets when it came to making her environment welcoming, from a near-ubiquitous smile to the best hugs in the Northern Hemisphere. She could take a well-intended joke with the best, but she could also narrow her eyes and give as good as she got.
    Kelley finally found the love of her life with another Georgia Southern alumnus, Andy Lash. They met in Houston, of course, because Kelley’s life often played out as a romantic comedy. The plot of her story with Andy began with a social media feud and an umbrella. People meet in strange ways, and for Kelley and Andy to have come together more conventionally would have been somehow wrong.
    Andy was in love with his wife and her idiosyncrasies, and she was in love with his willingness to somehow find the perfect gesture of love at every turn (like getting Kelley’s favorite NFL star, JJ Watt, to help him propose marriage to her).
    The two of them embraced their adopted city, becoming devoted fans of the Houston Texans and Astros. They discovered all the best places for tacos. They weathered hurricanes and floods together. Even on a workday, the two of them could often be found having lunch together. It was the Happily Ever After each deserved.
    As a mother, Kelley passed many of her loves to her daughter, Riley, including a passion for cats, Taylor Swift, musicals and Harry Potter. And boy bands, of course. Kelley’s pride as a mother may have been the one aspect in her life where she did not shy away from pride. She relished in her daughter’s growth and expanding horizons and shared that excitement whenever she spoke of Riley. The two spent summers finding adventures together, from rodeos to concerts to quiet days reading or sharing a favorite show together.
    Kelley was one of four sisters and formed close and complex relationships with each of them. She found countless ways to love them all, as well as their families. And while they could clash as only siblings can, Kelley would race to their defense if anyone else said a bad word against them. The traits Kelley possessed that made her such a dear friend to so many people were forged by her relationships with Rhonda, Carolyne and Katie.
    She is survived by her husband, Andy Lash; and daughter, Riley Callaway; parents, Fenton and Debbie McGonnell; sisters, Katie McGonnell, Carolyne Francis and Rhonda McBoz; brothers-in-law, Brian Francis and Sean McBoz; nieces, Mia and Elin McGonnell-Jasionowski; and nephew, Ace Francis; mother-in-law and father-in-law, Chris and Kevin Lash; brothers-in-law and sister-in-law, Tom and Nikki Lash and Cory Lash; and nieces, Aubrey and Harper Lash.
    In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the College Media Association.

Statesboro Herald, March 3, 2022
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