He was genuine, passionate, and fiercely committed to getting results and making Cochrane an even better place.

Yesterday, news spread quickly of the passing of Kelly Carson after a brief and courageous battle against cancer. Kelly became the first executive director of the chamber in 2020.

Kelly leaves behind a legacy of vibrancy and dedication that has profoundly shaped the Cochrane and District Chamber of Commerce, states a chamber announcement. He quickly became known for his bright personality and even more colourful suits.

"His boundless energy and unwavering commitment to our community made him a beloved leader and a cherished friend to many," it continues. "As Kelly connected with local business owners and increased our impact, he always did so with a smile and a contagious enthusiasm that motivated us all to strive for excellence."

During his tenure, the organization was named chamber of the year in 2022 in the 200-to-450-member category.

Kelly CarsonKelly holds the Chamber of the Year Award presented by the Alberta Chamber of Commerce. 

READ: Cochrane Chamber named best of its size in province

Chamber president Ozzie Sawicki says Kelly was a very kind, gentle person who cared about everybody.

"It's just devastating to see somebody like that disappear from our world," says Sawicki. "Right now, I think there's a lot of a lot of people hurting out there that are going to miss him, and the most important thing I see right now is the way our community is banding together."

He says there has been an outpouring of support for his wife Tracey and their children. Many have stepped forward to ask what they can do to help and what can they do to be part of celebrating his life when the time is right.

"That just shows you the impact that he had on so many people. I think that's what's going to resonate with me is that I think he was just a good human being that we should never forget."

Mayor Jeff Genung spoke briefly about Kelly at last night's council meeting.

"Kelly was a flamboyant, fun individual that really brought a different energy to a meeting," said Genung.  "He also represented himself through many different colourful suits and just had a style and flamboyance about him that I really appreciated."

In his last year-end interview with Cochrane Now, Kelly spoke proudly of how the business community continued to blossom and diversify. As usual, Kelly was highly visible in the business community and about town. He represented the chamber at 70 events in 2023 and vowed to continue to involve the chamber in as many aspects of the community as possible.