Jordan Kelly (1987-2008)
by Billy Threadgold
Jordan Kelly was sitting amongst a small group of people at Corduroy Surf in Portland, Maine watching the guys from Grain Surfboards put on one of their dog-and-pony shows. They stepped out of an old, refurbished milk truck and into his consciousness. Enthusiastically they discussed their appreciation of exotic woods and expounded on their approach to woodworking as surgeons might explain their most delicate and successful operations. To them, intricate woodworking seemed to be the ultimate art form. Who in their right mind gets excited about wood? Jordan did.
As the evening progressed and the exacting process of sculpting unique and beautiful works of art which can navigate surf, was explained, Jordan imagined an adult world that included an evenly planed, carefully shaped, and smoothly sanded place for himself.
So how did a kid who grew up on Cape Cod end up in this surf shop in Maine anyhow? If you believe in destiny there was really no other place he was supposed to be.
Like all kids who zippered their friends into rolling suitcases, then sent them down homemade skateboard ramps to see how high they could be launched, Jordan’s childhood was very typical. Sure, it may have seemed a bit reckless to the adults who had to mend the bleeding forehead when the Samsonite didn’t exactly stick the landing, but no one ever said pioneering “manned-luggage space flight” was going to be easy. Throughout the years of ollies resulting in broker furniture, cracked bones and scabs of honor, bicycles retrofitted with water or snow skis, zip lines, half pipes and the occasional street luge assembled with bed frames and lawn mower wheels, Jordan’s adventurous childhood resume made it clear from day one: this kid wasn’t going to be an accountant.
After his graduation from Falmouth High School, in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Jordan decided to attend Maine College of Art in Portland where his growing appreciation for photography could collaborate with his love of riding anything he could build, borrow or buy. Skateboarding, snowboarding, skim boarding, and surfing began offering an artistic outlet as well as a physical one. In Maine, Jordan had found the perfect location from which to operate. He could be strapped to his board and on the mountain before the first snow had finished falling, and the waves at Higgins Beach offered a year-round playground. A quick drive down the coast found him back on Cape Cod for work, family, and friends.
It was Jordan’s love of skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding and art that led him to Maine. A passionate interest in fine woodworking and his growing, fanatical devotion to surfing now fueled his desire to attend classes at Grain. In September 2008 he rented a cottage on Higgins Beach where he surfed daily and began putting money aside towards that goal. On November 13, 2008, Jordan’s 21st birthday, he received a pledge from his mother to help him get to Grain. Loving where he lived, doing what he loved, and with his dream about to become a reality, life was good.
A few days later, on a crisp, Thanksgiving morning, Jordan and his buddy surfed for a few hours with some local seals darting between them. He said his goodbyes and headed down to Boston to spend the holiday with family, later that evening he drove to Cape Cod and see his friends. The perfect day: surfing, family and friends.
On his way home that night, Jordan lost his life in a car accident. What those of us who loved him want, but cannot have, is Jordan back. What we can do is see his dream of attending Grain realized. This scholarship is intended to provide financial assistance to individuals who share Jordan’s dream. It is open to anyone who views the opportunity to attend Grain not as a place to build a surfboard, but as something much more. If you recognize a part of yourself in Jordan’s story we would love to hear from you.
|Billy Thread Gold is the life partner of Jordan’s mom Karen.|