Kelly Marcus Blake grew up in Beaumont, Texas with her two brothers Andy and David and parents Sandi McCracken and Mike Marcus. Later, her family expanded adding Stepmom, Virginia Marcus with Stepbrother Cullen, and Stepsister Brittany, as well as Stepfather, Mike McCracken with Stepbrothers Charlie, and Gray. In her early years, Kelly’s favorite activities included dance, soccer, swim team, babysitting and lifeguarding. Her ten years at Laity Lodge Youth Camp, especially the final two years as a counselor, were a highlight that she spoke of often.
Kelly attended Texas Tech University starting in 1995. After making some lifelong friends and having far too much fun, she still managed to graduate in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. She spent the next two years traveling around the country setting up marketing teams for Red Bull. In 2001, Kelly settled in Dallas, Texas, where she began her true career path in higher education and recruiting. Throughout her career, Kaplan, University of Phoenix, Smith Hanley/inVentiv, Smith & Associates, Houston Independent School District and Indiana University School of Nursing all were positively impacted by Kelly’s efforts to recruit and advise students and potential employees.
In August 2003, Kelly met Jamie Blake at a wedding in Philadelphia. Nine months of long-distance courtship led Kelly to move to Houston to be closer to Jamie. They married in October 2009 on a beach in Mexico surrounded by family and close friends. Together, they enjoyed going out for dinner and drinks, attending concerts and music festivals, supporting charities they believed in and traveling together on new adventures across the globe to destinations, including Oregon and California wine country, Boston, NYC, numerous Florida beaches, Alaska, Hawaii, Caribbean, Belize, Costa Rica, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, and their favorite, a safari trip to Botswana and South Africa. Along the way she continued to find and make amazing new friends. Jamie used to describe Kelly as a social butterfly who could make friends with a pillar if no one else was around. For fun, Kelly book club/cocktailed with her girlfriends, played soccer on both women’s and coed recreation teams, ran 5k’s and ½ marathons, participated in triathlons, introduced friends to her favorite Schramsberg sparkling wines and donated her time to Child Advocates and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
While living in Houston, Kelly grew passionate about dog rescue and was committed to reducing the alarming euthanasia rate in Texas. Their first foster dog in 2007 was so easy to care for and re-home, that she convinced Jamie that it wouldn’t be difficult, and they could really make a difference by fostering. They stopped counting once they passed 100 dogs fostered and adopted. Kelly eventually served on the board for two animal rescue groups that were dear to her heart: Pup Squad and Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.
In 2015, Jamie and Kelly chose to expand their family further and were blessed with their beautiful daughter Ramsey (who is truly her mini-me). Although Kelly never envisioned herself married or a mom, she adored every minute spent being Ramsey’s mom and being married to Jamie. Even when she and Ramsey would butt heads over the silliest things, Jamie would just laugh at her and point out that she is arguing with a mini version of herself and to just accept losing an argument as he did daily. In 2017, Kelly supported Jamie taking a new job opportunity in Indiana. Despite Jamie’s aversion to all things spicy, the St Elmo Shrimp Cocktail and the people at Huse Culinary quickly won them over. They found their new long-term home in Indianapolis, where they built a tight-knit community of friends, caring neighbors, supportive co-workers, and they even reconnected with college friends who had also landed in the Midwest.
In her final year, Kelly never gave in to her cancer. She constantly researched options and fostered relationships across the US and in the Cholangiocarcinoma community. She and Jamie made a conscious decision to not shy away from talking about her rare disease, because they realized awareness was so important to making an impact. She began raising money for research, actively participated in weekly support groups and would send friendly check-in notes to acquaintances and strangers alike to remind them that they were not alone on this journey.
Kelly is remembered and survived by too many friends and family to list. She felt they were all important when she prepared her own obituary and decided, they know who they are. Reflecting back, Kelly said she loved spending time with Jamie and Ramsey and looked forward to adventures with her as she grew older. She especially cherished taking Ramsey to beach vacations, the Pacific Northwest and Iceland this past year. Kelly tasked Jamie with making sure Ramsey traveled to all the places they had on their family wish list, with her ashes in tow. Kelly valued time with friends, family, and their dogs. Whether it was traveling to a new city, relaxing on a lake during the Midwest summers, tasting new restaurant menus, attending sporting events or concerts (The Rolling Stones, in particular), Kelly was constantly on the move. She never let a moment pass without staying busy and starting a new conversation, always with a big smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye knowing she was living her best life.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Kelly’s honor to the following charities that she passionately supported: https://pupsquad.org/donate/
Also, while not necessary, for those who have asked how you may support Ramsey, a link to donate to her 529 education fund is https://www.ugift529.com/ (use unique code F1J-86J)