SunRay Kelley, Master Builder of the Counterculture, Dies at 71

Raymond Elbert Kelley, one of five children, was born on Dec. 1, 1951, in Sedro-Woolley, a logging and mill town. His father, Cecil, was a mechanic in a mill. His mother, Wanda (Janicki) Kelley, was a homemaker who baked her own bread and churned butter; her parents, Polish immigrants, had homesteaded the land Ray grew up on. The family raised beef and dairy cows.

Ray studied drafting in high school and attended Western Washington University on a football scholarship. He studied art there but dropped out after two years and started designing buildings. When he showed his swirling sketches to a local builder, he later recalled, the man said, “You better get a hammer, boy, because nobody is going to build this stuff for you.”

In addition to Ms. Howard, Mr. Kelley is survived by a brother, Tim; a daughter, Kumara Kelley; three sons, Rafe Kelley, Kai Farrar and Eli Erpenbach; and seven grandchildren. His marriage to Judy Farrar, in 1978, ended in divorce.

Mr. Kelley lived by a few credos, which included what he called “barefootism” — he adamantly eschewed footwear, believing that being barefoot was a grounding behavior that connected him to the earth’s energy, no matter the weather.

Ms. Howard recalled buying him a pair of boots one winter early in their relationship, and coming home one blizzardy day to find the boots by the door where she had left them and a track of footprints leading away from the house and disappearing into the deep snow.

“Dessert first” was another mantra. Mr. Kelley’s habit was to eat dessert before dinner, and he did so with terrific gusto — Mr. Tortorello of The Times recalled him enjoying a hot-from-the oven apple crisp with his bare hands. “His line,” Ms. Howard explained, “was, ‘You never know when your bubble’s going to pop, so eat dessert first.’”