As most of you know by now Kelly Purcell passed away last week Saturday at the age of 58. She is survived by her daughter, Rachel, her mother, two sisters, three nieces and two nephews. Losing a friend is hard, but Kelly was so much more to so many of us. As I was processing how I felt I wasn’t sure if I was going to write something, but I was asked to do so by some industry friends so I decided that I should honor my friend and write about her here.
To many Kelly was a thought leader in the mortgage space. She spoke out in favor of eSigning, eVaulting and eClosing starting in the 1990s when she founded SignOnline with Nancy Alley and Jonathan Kearns. She was truly ahead of her time. But beyond her industry vision she was in general a passionate person that always had something to say, an opinion to express and a story to share. She was a diehard, loyal friend that would always jump in the fray to help you out.
Our friendship began by seeing each other at conferences and chatting on the phone, but it quickly evolved to so much more. Any time I was working on a story I could call her for help, but I could also call her to talk about my kids or my family life, as well. She was always there for me. I distinctly remember calling her in 2009 telling her that I was going to start PROGRESS in Lending. Kelly didn’t hesitate, she quickly volunteered to help. So, she became one of our founding Board Members. I tout that we started out with 1,500 subscribers and now we have over 90,000. Half of those initial subscribers came from Kelly. I didn’t even have to ask, she just gave me her database. That was Kelly for you.
But I wasn’t the only friend that she helped or person that she touched. Far from it. “Kelly’s enthusiasm and passion was contagious,” said Nancy Alley, SignOnline co-founder and VP, Product Strategy at ICE Mortgage Technology. “She always inspired me to keep pushing through the roadblocks and to dream big. She definitely made a difference in the industry’s pursuit of the digital mortgage. But Kelly was much more than an industry peer; she was a loyal friend, and she will be missed dearly.”
Tim Anderson, SVP and director of digital strategy at MortgageConnect, remembers Kelly’s spirit. “I first met Kelly back in 1999 when she was promoting this future thing called eSign and eVaulting and I was hooked ever since. Both on her and her passion in what she was promoting and the opportunity to fundamentally change getting away from archaic paper based processes. She was a driving force to be reckoned with and “e” before “e” was cool or really on anyone’s radar. Along with her team of merry cohorts, (Nancy and Jonathan) we spent many days, times and years breaking down the barriers and educating people. The thoughts, memories and times we all shared in doing so will be remembered and cherished forever! In our self-absorbed lives we take so much for granted in our busy daily lives and then they are gone forever. I will sorely miss her, her ever guiding light, spirit, energy and winning personality.”
Jonathan Kearns, SignOnline co-founder and associate vice president at the Mortgage Bankers Association, remembers his time with Kelly fondly. “If you think back, the ESIGN Act wasn’t signed until June of 2000, by that time we at SignOnline already had our first customer. That is vision! eSignatures are a part of our daily lives today but back in the early 2000’s it was such an unknown and considered a risk factor, especially in the mortgage industry. For years we evangelized and moved the needle forward on eMortgages, no one did it better than Kelly.
“We worked together side by side for 15 years, until 2015. From starting SignOnline, selling it to Wave Systems and becoming eSignSystems, then selling the eSignSystems division to DocMagic we shared amazing experiences I will cherish forever,” remembered Kearns. “But more importantly she was a true, loyal friend for over two decades. We had the highest of highs together and the lowest of lows but no matter what she was always there for me. Kelly was a huge influence on the person I am today, I will sorely miss her.”
So many of us feel the same exact way. Saying, or in this case writing, goodbye to my friend Kelly Purcell seems so final. She may no longer be with me, and her family and friends, in the flesh but she’ll always be with us. She will never leave us. In me and everyone who knew her she lives on forever and ever.