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Beloved soccer referee, mentor dies from flu complications

Beloved Indiana soccer referee dies from flu complications

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WISH) — His obituary touted him as a “soccer extraordinaire.”

Kelly Dossey, 54, wore many hats — and cleats — during his two decades as a beloved member of the central Indiana soccer community.

He organized tournaments for multiple clubs, led summer soccer programs, worked as a referee, took on administrative duties and mentored countless young athletes.

Dossey died Monday in his sleep from flu-related complications, friends told News 8.

“54 is just way too young,” said longtime friend and colleague Mark Nirrengarten, the junior academy director at Westside United FC. “When you think about people passing away from the flu, [you think] it’s because they’re older or they’re sick already… But he seemed fine. And then he was gone.”

45 flu-related deaths were reported in Indiana from Sept. 29 to Jan. 25, according to figures released Friday by state health officials.

At least seven flu-related deaths — more than 15% of the seasonal death toll — were reported the week of Jan. 19, according to the report from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH).

Nine of the 45 victims were between the ages of 50 and 64.

Dossey had attended a soccer event days before his death and seemed “strong and healthy,” Nirrengarten said.

Joy Carter, an administrator at the Indiana Soccer Olympic Development Program and another close friend, remembered Dossey as “always full of life.”

Soccer clubs across the region that had worked with him were struggling to cope with his sudden death, she told News 8.

“He was always smiling; always laughing; always making the kids laugh; always cutting up with them,” Carter said. 

She smiled, recalling Dossey’s antics during the FIFA World Cup. A video shared on social media pages remembering his life shows the beloved referee flipping a World Cup coin, surrounded by laughing children.

He “never went a day without showing his love and affection for others,” his obituary said. “Kelly Dossey was a man of so much love, many talents, stories, memories and many words… His life revolved around soccer, his kids and the Smoky Mountains. He LOVED his mountains.”

Dossey is survived by his children, grandchildren, brother and hundreds of fellow soccer aficionados. 

A ceremony commemorating his life will be held Saturday, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. at Vineyard Life Church in Indianapolis. Attendees are encouraged to wear soccer gear, referee apparel or Cowboys jerseys in lieu of black clothing. A pizza party will be held at the church after the celebration of life.

Contributions to Dossey’s family can be made to a GoFundMe account created by Carter.