MaryAnne Keyes

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MaryAnne Keyes

April 18, 1918 - February 15, 2010


MaryAnne Keyes, 91, passed away quietly Feb. 15, 2010, at Park Manor Rehabilitation Center after an extended ordeal with multiple infirmities of age. A vivacious, energetic, outdoors woman in her younger years, MaryAnne resented her old age and its struggles. When asked about everlasting life she claimed, "I've found it; it's called the 90s!" In Christmas cards she sent out recently she passed along her advice, "Skip the 90s!" To the end she maintained a wit and practicality that endeared her to friends, family, and caregivers.

MaryAnne was born the first of four children to Edward Thomas and Charlene Hyatt Turner, April 8, 1918, in Dayton, Ohio. A formative part of her childhood was spent enjoying her Aunt Lucy's ranch, At Last Ranch, near Pagosa Springs, Colo. There she nurtured a passion for horseback riding and rode extensively in the Rocky Mountains near Wolf Creek Pass and through the San Juan River basin. She passed both the love of riding and the ranch on to her children and enjoyed reminiscing throughout her life about times spent there. She had horses trucked from Colorado to the family home in Walla Walla and it was those horses, including her own first riding horse, Whoosey, on which her daughters learned to ride. MaryAnne was one of the charter members of the Blue Mountain Riders. She also rode as a competitive equestrian jumper while she was in college.

MaryAnne graduated with a BA in sociology from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. She was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and enjoyed a continued association with the Whitman College chapter for years. While at Cornell she met a young doctor, Ralph Keyes, who she consulted about a toe problem. Though she did not take his advice and have her toe cut off, she took his subsequent suggestion more seriously and married him Dec. 28, 1940. After Ralph returned from military service overseas, the couple moved west, eventually landing in Walla Walla in about 1945. She often exclaimed that she felt so lucky that they had discovered Walla Walla.

MaryAnne spent many happy years riding a bicycle twice a week with a group she helped start in the 1960s. She scoffed at the trend of wearing a helmet and happily took the lead in the group on her fat-tired bicycle. Skiing was another important recreational sport in her life and she skied regularly with her friends and family at Spout Springs. She fondly recalled the days when her family of seven got a season pass at Spout for $35, and that included lessons. She and Ralph played social bridge extensively and among her prized possessions are several change purses full of coins that she won at her weekly bridge games. She was a voracious reader and participated in the Great Books discussion group for many years. She enjoyed lifelong learning and participated in Quest at Walla Walla Community College for as long as she was able.

One of the most difficult events in her life came in 2006 when she and Ralph left their family home on Bridge Street, where they lived for nearly 60 years, and moved to an assisted living facility. Five months ago she suffered a stroke and landed in the hospital. All five of her children gathered at her bedside and when she regained consciousness she asked in surprise, "What are you doing here? Did you come for my funeral?" Daughter Jill replied, "I thought we were!" With this she giggled happily for two days as she enjoyed her children's visits. MaryAnne's family meant a great deal to her and she remained a gracious, appreciative woman even in her final days when she remarked that she did not know what she did to deserve such a wonderful family.

MaryAnne is survived by her husband, Ralph, 98, at Park Manor, their five children and their spouses, Jill Ferrier (Kent), Woodland, Wash., Susie Hernandez (Antonio) Cuernavaca, Mexico, Jeph Keyes (Dianne) Bellingham, Peter Keyes (Jean) Encinitas, Calif., Nancy Kress (Phil), Walla Walla. Also surviving are nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren; sister, Eleanor Wasmuth, Ohio; brother, Ned Turner, Indiana. Her parents, her sister, Jean Creed, and grandson, Keenan Ferrier, preceded her in death.

Friends are invited to attend a memorial gathering Thursday, Feb. 25, 3 p.m., at Wheatland Village in the second floor lounge. A family memorial gathering will be held in June. Inurnment will be at Mountain View Cemetery.

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