Green was born in Moab during the uranium boom of the 1950s.
“My story is similar to a lot of stories in the 50s,” he said.
While his father started out as a miner, he did a lot of different jobs over the years. His work eventually took Green’s family to San Juan County.
“I grew up in every little town down there,” he said.
In the late 1960s, Green’s father decided to form a river company.
“We worked in partnership with Tag-A-Long,” Green said. “I grew up learning how to guide.”
At 16, Green got his license to guide his own trips and started running tours for the company.
“It opened the world to me,” he said. “That’s when my interest in people developed.”
Green said that the experience of running the river opened his mind to a variety of different ways of thinking, an interest that eventually led him to his current occupation as a social worker.
After graduating from Monticello High School, Green served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Japan. Upon his return, he began attending classes at Snow College. It was during his time there that he met his future wife, Julie.
“It was easy because we were both from Moab, and we both wanted to go back,” he said.
“My aunt had told me to keep an eye out for him,” Julie Green said. “But she was a terrible matchmaker so I tried to stay away from him.”
The couple eventually crossed paths, began dating and has now been married for 32 years.
Green has spent the last 30 years as a licensed clinical social worker. He and his family spent nine years in Monticello before returning to Moab. “We’ve always loved Moab,” he said. “For me southeastern Utah is home.”
Earlier this year, Green published a story twenty years in the making. His book, “Lyman’s Land,” is the story of a rancher living in southeastern Utah.
“It’s about a local cowboy dealing with the traditional types of conflicts,” he said.
While Green had the story published more for his family and friends to enjoy, he said it’s fun to see people around town read it and try and figure out who might have been the inspiration for the various characters.
“It’s a good story for sitting around the campfire,” he said. “It focuses on multiple use of the land.”
The Greens now live in Bliss Canyon, an area that Julie Green’s family has called home for nearly 100 years. They’re surrounded by family, and that means a great deal to both of them.
“Family is everything,” Green said. “We think that’s pretty important.”
Although Green still enjoys spending time on the river, he says he looks at it differently these days.
“I don’t need the excitement of going down Westwater or Cataract Canyon anymore,” he said. “We like to climb in with our life jackets on and just float.”
His outlook on river running may have changed, but his sense of humor hasn’t, according to his wife.
“He’s very entertaining,” Julie Green said. “He has a joke for everything ... When he was leading tours, we could always tell which group was his. They’d be laughing clear to the dock.”
And Kelly Green still carries with him one of the most important lessons he learned from the river.
“The river teaches you that life has its own pace,” he said. “You just have to go along with it.”