By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Christmas concert honors Kelley Humlie

Submitted photo##Kelley Humlie smiles during an event organized by supporters this fall.
Submitted photo##Kelley Humlie smiles during an event organized by supporters this fall.
##Kelley Humlie at the beach with her daughter Bethany, husband George, and sons Joshua and Manny. “We’re very at peace,” George said, “because God is in absolute control of this.”
##Kelley Humlie at the beach with her daughter Bethany, husband George, and sons Joshua and Manny. “We’re very at peace,” George said, “because God is in absolute control of this.”

This time, they’ll be playing to a very special audience, in addition to members of the public. The concert is for Kelley Humlie, the family matriarch, who is being treated for Stage 4 cancer. 

If you go

It’s a way for the musicians and community members to show their love and support, said her husband, George Humlie, and daughter, Bethany (Humlie) Blanchard.

“Music is our outlet,” Bethany said, explaining that the concert also will give her and her brothers, Joshua and Manny Humlie, a chance to express their feelings.

“What a blessing music is for us,” she said, recalling how she and her brothers, who call their trio “We Three,” played a gig the night after their mother’s diagnosis. “We played our hearts out.

“Mom came. She and dad always come when they can.”

She said, “We realized we are important. It was for us to be blessed with and by the gift of music, and to use that to glorify God and make our parents proud.”

“A Christmas for Kelley” will start at 7 p.m. at the Nazarene Church on the Hill on McMinnville’s west side. Admission is free.

The evening, which will include comedy as well as music, will be based on “Saturday Night Alive” variety shows the Humlies did regularly at their church during the 1990s.

“It’s very much a celebration, and it definitely reflects back on what the kids grew up doing, a very fun time in their lives,” George said. It’s similar to a SNA program they performed in late 2008, though few people saw it because it coincided with a huge snowstorm.

In addition to Kelley’s husband and children, “A Christmas for Kelley” performers will include members of the extended family, such as Fred and Petra Bolton, Carmine Russell, Mario Humlie and cousins Enoch and Dominic.

And there will be special guests, some of them spoofs on the likes of the Blues Brothers, and some of them real, such as the Occasional Quartet.

Kelley Humlie was diagnosed with carcinoma on Sept. 16. She had been feeling ill for about a month, but had attributed her pain to gallstones.

“When we found out ... we were trying to hold back tears and stay strong for Mom,” Bethany said. She broke the news to her brothers, she said, “and we got together and prayed.”

In an effort to beat Kelley’s fast-growing, aggressive tumor, doctors prescribed six rounds of chemotherapy on a three-day-on, three-week-off schedule. She’s had four rounds so far.

CAT scans follow every second round so doctors can assess her progress and make adjustments so they’re both fighting the cancer and keeping her comfortable. The most recent scan revealed more bad news — the cancer was spreading, and Kelley needed to go into the hospital to have a stent installed.

It’s been a difficult few months, her husband said.

They’re grateful, though, that they’ve had a lot of support from friends and community members who know them from their various activities, such as the Humlie School of Music or the music camp they run each summer in conjunction with the See Ya Later Foundation.

Friends have brought meals and organized several benefits, and See Ya Later has a fund set up on her behalf. The Foundation’s Seeds of Hope program, which helps families dealing with medical issues, surprised them with an early Christmas celebration on Dec. 7.

And the Humlies’ faith in God carries them through. 

“We’re very at peace,” he said, “because God is in absolute control of this.”

Bethany echoed that. “We’re a Christian family. We know God will do what he will do,” she said.

Meanwhile, they will make music and make Kelley happy.

Kelley is the one member of the family people don’t usually see on stage. But her daughter and husband said she’s played a critical part in all their musical endeavors, working behind the scenes and supporting everything her family has done.

And, while she might not say so herself, she is musical, too.

In fact, George said, when he first met Kelley she was singing “El Shaddai,” or “God Almighty,” Amy Grant’s song of praise.

He had gone to Lincoln City, her hometown, to set up a Young Life group. A teacher at the same elementary school she’d attended as a child, she also was representing a local church youth group.

“There was something about her — her bubbly attitude, maybe — that drew me to her,” he said. “And she’s a better guitar picker than I am.”

They moved to McMinnville shortly after they married and had first Joshua, then Bethany, then Manny, who graduated from McMinnville High School this year. Together, he said, they raised their children to be respectful, resourceful and responsible, as well as strong in their shared faith.

George said they’ve had a wonderful life as a couple and a family. Much of that is due to Kelley herself, he said.

“She always sees the glass half full and looks for ways to fill it up,” he said. 

He described his wife as a peacemaker who can bring resolution to any conflict. She’s often the one people turn to when they have problems or marriage difficulties.

“She’s the most encouraging person I’ve ever met,” he said.

Both he and his daughter said their already-close family has become even closer since Kelley’s illness was diagnosed. All three of the children live in McMinnville, and they’ve been spending even more time than usual at their parents’ house.

Usually, at this time of year, they are immersed in preparing for Christmas — in terms of musical performances, church programs and family get-togethers.

“It’s a time we all look forward to,” George said, remembering how his children loved finding new musical instruments under the tree.

He and Kelley always decided not to buy things for one another, but exchanged gifts anyway, he said. 

But presents aren’t important, he said.

“It’s the experiences, the look in the kids’ eyes,” he said. “That’s what Christmas is all about.”

One thing he would love: For his wife to live long enough to see her future grandchildren. Even if that doesn’t happen, he said, the grandkids will grow up knowing about their special grandmother.

“We have so many stories,” he said. “So many wonderful stories.”


If you go

What: “A Christmas for Kelley” concert and variety show honoring Kelley Humlie, who is being treated for cancer

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19

Where: Nazarene Church on the Hill, 700 N.W. Hill Road, McMinnville

How much: Free

Other ways to support the Humlie family: Go to the “Kelley’s Unexpected Journey” Facebook page to find a link to the See Ya Later Foundation’s donation site

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