Promoted to Glory

Alta Kelso promoted to Glory at 101

Commissioned in 1923 Kelso was known as a “circuit riding preacher.”


Brigadier Alta Kelso was promoted to Glory on Sunday, February 26, 2006, just a few months before her 102nd birthday.

Alta was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 2, 1904 and grew up in The Salvation Army. During her life she had four great loves: her love of God and salvation through Jesus Christ; her love of singing, using her voice to sing God’s praises, right up to her promotion to Glory; her love for The Salvation Army; her love of the family God gave her.

Alta enter the training college in San Francisco from Great Falls, Montana, and was commissioned as part of the 100% Session in 1923. As a single officer she served in several appointments in the Intermountain Division. She was a “circuit riding preacher” in her younger days. Armed with her guitar and a bundle of War Crys, she would take her stand on the streets or in the Army hall through sunshine or snow.

Adjutant Alta Wathen married Captain Stewart Kelso in 1935, and together they served in corps, administration, adult rehabilitation and institutional appointments in the Hawaiian Islands, Northern and Southern California, and Northwest divisions.

The Kelsos retired in 1969. In retirement they continued to assist wherever needed. For many years Alta served as chaplain of the Santa Clara home league. Following her husband’s promotion to Glory in 1984, Alta lived alone for many years, and then moved to Sun City to be with her children, Majors Ed and Dorothy Covert. Her final days were spent at the Sun City Convalescent Center, where she brought a ray of sunshine to residents and staff.

Mrs. Brigadier Kelso is survived by two daughters, Major Dorothy Covert, and Janet Celentano, two sons-in-law, seven grandchildren, including Major Beth Paugh, and 13 great-grandchildren.

Services of remembrance and celebration of life were held in Sun City, Calif., Major Darren Trimmer officiating, and Colma, Calif., Major Kenneth Osbourn officiating, with Major Ed Covert officiating at the committal service, and at the Murrieta Corps.

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