In memory of
William Le Roy "Bill" Keys
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In memory of
William Le Roy "Bill" Keys
William Le Roy 'Bill' Keys July 23, 1924 - April 12, 2017 Entered into eternal life April 12, 2017 at the age of 92 years. Bill was born in Astoria, July 23, 1924. He was the loving son of Frank and Pearl Keys. He is survived by his two children, Craig Keys and Myrna Dysle; husband, Vern; and his adoring granddaughter, Amy and her husband, James Struck. We were also lucky enough to acquire a new step family when dad married Mary Steveko in 2007. Bill is also survived by stepdaughter, Annette Steveko, her son, Nate and husband, Tim Frary. Also by another sister, Suzie and her husband, Steve Crossette. Bill went to school in Westport but didn't quite make it through high school as he ran off and joined the Army at age 15. Even though he didn't get through high school, he learned many skills growing up on the Columbia River that would serve him well, not only in the Army but later in life. He learned things like how to hunt and track Elk in the mountains, how to trap and skin muskrats, and mink, how to throw a baseball (he played catcher for just about all the town teams in and around Astoria and Westport), where to find and pick huckleberries, how to use a Kayak in the many Colombia River swamps, how to split wood, cut Cedar Shakes and it seemed like a million other things we could never quite figure out how he learned. Anyway, Bill joined the Army at age 15 and was having a great time until they found out he wasn't 18 yet, not even close. Bill had fudged three years on his age and got sent home as soon as they found out. In 1943 he married Aldean Dodson, went back in the Army, on his way to fight the Germans in Northern Italy. His wife stayed behind in St. Johns and worked for Oregon Shipyards all during the war as a welder. Meanwhile, up in Northern Italy dad is busy winning Purple Hearts and the Silver Star and unfortunately getting worked over by a German machine gun pretty good. He got hit near Bologna, Italy after marching the whole length of Italy from Anzio to Bologna. Dad survived the war and came home, though the ever cheerful Army doctors told our mom he probably wouldn't make it much past 30 as he'd been severely wounded in the stomach and lungs. They weren't entirely sure he would hold together for more than a few years. So things were going well for the Keys family in the early 1950s. We were now living in S.E. Portland and my sister, Myrna and I were just entering our first years of school at Buckman Grade School. We had survived the Vanport Flood of 1948 in which our folks pretty much lost everything except their car and us kids. Dad worked on the fire boat for Portland Fire for over 29 years and was co-inventor of a method for squirting colored water during the Rose Festival and other events instead of plain old brown river water. It has often been said that no generation is as "spoiled" as the generation following a great military victory. We were blessed. All of us! Our house rang with the sounds of Elvis, Little Richard, The Statesman Quartet, Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys, The Ink Spots and we also enjoyed great food and good television. Instead of slowing down after the war dad seemed to speed up. He coached baseball teams for our school and for our church Portland Foursquare which had two little league teams. He was Cub Scout Master for the whole scouting program at our school and also taught Boy Scout classes in First Aid and Woodcraft. He drove the church bus to many outings for us kids. The Beach, Mt. Hood, Camp Crestview. Like I said, we were "Spoiled". Dad worked more jobs and did more different kinds of things than anybody else I can think of. I gave up counting at about 35. His earliest jobs were things like "Picking" Chittem Bark for medicine when he was about 6-10 years old. Picking and selling Huckleberries (at about the same age). Trapping Muskrat and selling the furs to the Sears & Roebuck buyer that came through town often. His later jobs were running a Gas Station which he was part owner of, or selling and delivering Toro Lawn Mowers. Suffice it to say he had many very wide areas of interest and expertise. In later years mom retired from United Airlines and since her and dad could fly free on Mom's passes they acquired two time share condos at Waikiki and spent a month each year doing the hula for the next 30 years. What a time they had! I had the privilege a few years ago of accompanying my dad to an Army reunion back in Italy where he had won a Silver Star. About 3-4 Mayors of Little towns around Bologna showed up and gave dad a key to their city. At times it seemed dad could almost speak Italian. Well, my sister Myrna and I once tried to figure out all the different organizations, charities, lodges and Veterans groups and we never could name them all. We'll just say that he and mom led very active lives and dad didn't die at 30 like the doctors predicted. Later in life dad married Mary Steveko and although she died about three years later, her and her family became not only our step family but some of our best friends. So thanks Annette, Nate, Tim, Suzie and Steve for all your support and friendship and for sharing your mother with us. Please come and join us for a celebration of Bills life at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, June 4, 2017 at The Troutdale House 411 East Historic Columbia River Hwy, Troutdale, OR 97060. Arrangements entrusted to Peake Funeral Chapel, Milwaukie. Please sign the online guest book at
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