Landon B. Kelly (1923 – 2016)

Landon Kelley

Landon Kelley

ADN.  Landon B. Kelly, a major architect of Prudhoe Bay and a man affectingly called the “John Wayne” of the North Slope, died on Oct. 26, 2016, in Anchorage, Alaska, on his 93rd birthday.

A service is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, at St. John United Methodist Church, 1801 O’Malley Road in Anchorage.
Following a long career in the oil industry Outside, Landon went to the North Slope in January 1969 as the first Prudhoe Bay field manager for what later became ARCO. For the next three years he commuted between Alaska and Los Angeles, Calif., designing and building the initial production and support structure for the ARCO side of the field. He was at Prudhoe Bay with a symbolic barrel of oil to greet the icebreaker Manhattan as it finished its history-making journey through the Northwest Passage to see if a fleet of icebreakers could carry North Slope oil to market. He once parked a bulldozer in front of a plane until the pilot agreed to medivac an injured worker.

After Prudhoe, Landon helped develop the Kuparuk River Field and was working on the West Sac Sands when he retired in 1985.

Landon was born on Oct. 26, 1923 in San Jon, N.M., to Clint and Mary Isabel Kelly. He was raised on a farm in Colorado, before heading west in 1942, to work in the airplane factories in Los Angeles. There he met a brown-eyed beauty named Nina Gillespie who he married on Christmas Day 1942. It was a marriage that lasted 65 years and produced four children: Lana Johnson, Linda Shipley, Mike Kelly and Laura Ledbury.

Landon enlisted shortly after his marriage and became a pilot in World War II. He flew B-24s and B-25s on long-range, high-altitude mapping and reconnaissance missions in the China Theater. He logged 858 hours of flight time, flying 260 combat hours, including one mission that started in Calcutta, India, and ended in Singapore to photograph the remainder of the Japanese fleet, which was docked there after the last, big, naval battle. That flight lasted approximately 17 hours.

Following the war, Landon enrolled at the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a petroleum engineering degree and went to work for the Atlantic Refining Co. One of his early assignments was drilling one of the first offshore wells in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1966, Landon bought two old oil leases in Wyoming, where he used an innovative secondary recovery method that involved super-heated steam.
Following retirement, Landon and Nina moved to their farm in Weiser, Idaho, where they farmed for 25 years before the death of Nina in 2012.

Landon was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Nina; son, Mike; grandson, Ryan; and his parents. He is survived by his daughters, Lana (Don) Johnson, Linda (Bob) Shipley and Laura (Doug) Ledbury; his granddaughters, Adrienne Shipley, Terri Knight, Ashley Shipley, Kelly Powers and Kara Johnson; his grandsons, Clint (Sarah) Netherton and Sam Netherton; and seven great-grandchildren. – See more at: