Aug. 24, 1922 - Sept. 6, 2011
Mary Ellen Guthridge Keyes of 1500 Catherine St. passed away at Wheatland Village on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011, at the age of 89.
Mary Ellen was born in the family home at 216 N. Fifth St. in Walla Walla on Aug. 24, 1922, to George Joseph Guthridge and Hannah Augusta Berg Guthridge. She was the seventh child to this union and the "baby" of the family. All seven children were born in the Fifth Street house, which Mary Ellen treasured.
Mary Ellen's paternal grandparents, Benjamin George Guthridge and Ellen Goss Guthridge, were pioneer settlers of the valley, homesteading property in 1891. Her father worked for the Walla Walla Fire Department filling every position and was fire chief at the time when horse-drawn equipment was replaced with fire engines. Mary Ellen, being the youngest of the Guthridge family, was preceded in death by her parents and her six siblings. Her sister Ruth died as an infant in 1904, before Mary Ellen was born. Her brother Albert passed away at the young age of 16 in 1925, when Mary Ellen was only 2. Her brother Walter was killed in action on Leyte Island in 1944, while serving in the Army during World War II. Her brother Eugene passed away suddenly in 1956; her brother Francis departed in 1979; her sister Leona left this world in 1994.
She was a lifelong member of St. Patrick Church where she was baptized, received her first communion, was confirmed and married. She attended Catholic school at St. Patrick Catholic Church, graduating from St. Vincent Academy in 1940. She was a member of the St. Patrick Altar Society and served as president for several terms. She spent countless volunteer hours cleaning the church, washing and ironing altar linens and baking altar breads. She provided hundreds of dishes for funeral receptions and many pies for church bazaars.
After graduating from high school, Mary Ellen worked at the Walla Walla Army Air Base, issuing uniforms to the "fly boys" and U.S. Army Air Corps personnel. She later worked at W.L. Sterling Insurance and at the Walla Walla County Horticulture Office as a secretary. Her favorite vocation, however, was being a wife, mother and homemaker.
Mary Ellen met her husband, Donald M. Keyes, on a blind date set up by their best friends, Ward Miller and Mary Ellen Nelson in 1946. Mary Ellen and Don were married at St. Patrick Church on September 13, 1947. They lived in Seattle for a short time before moving back to Walla Walla to live with and care for her mother and raise their children at the family home on Fifth Street.
Mary Ellen maintained lifelong relationships with childhood and young adult friends because she knew the meaning of friendship and was willing to put time and effort into loving others. She had beautiful penmanship which she attributed to the Sisters of Providence and the number of letters that she wrote to friends and family were too many to be counted.
The young couple had three daughters, Patricia, Suzanne and Jacqueline and three sons, Walter, William and Christopher. In 1990, after 43 years of marriage, Donald preceded Mary Ellen in death. Her second daughter, Suzanne, preceded her in death in August 1999.
Mary Ellen spent most of her life caring for and giving to others. While raising her children to adulthood she was very involved in each of their lives and activities. She was active in the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) at St. Patrick School which her children attended as well as the Home and School Association at DeSales Catholic High School.
Mary Ellen enjoyed, cooking, baking, knitting, sewing and reading. She was well known for always having the cookie jars full with a variety of kinds for her children and grandchildren and their friends. She made delicious butter horns from her mother's recipe and the best pies you've ever tasted. She hand knit numerous beautiful sweaters and hundreds of pairs of socks. She tailored dresses and shirts, suits and coats for her nieces, children and friends. Her door was always open and the coffee was always brewing. Mary Ellen always seemed to have the time for others, a listening ear and compassionate heart.
Mary Ellen enjoyed attending all of the sports and school events for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She never missed a game or program if she could help it. She spent many, many hours on bleacher seats, in stadiums, pool side and working in concession stands to support and cheer.
She lived for her family and always put them first above her own desires or needs. Her grandchildren had special relationships with her, enjoying quality time with Grandma Mary at Fifth and Cherry and later at her Gemstone Street home and at "The Village." They brought great joy to her life and strengthened her spirit. When her great grandchildren entered her life she asked to see them constantly and looked forward to their hugs and smiles and energetic spirits.
Mary Ellen is survived by daughter Patty Keyes, son Walt Keyes and daughter-in-law Sharron Stirn Keyes, daughter Jackie Keyes DeLaney and son-in-law Jack DeLaney, son Bill Keyes and daughter-in-law Carolyn Stone Keyes all of Walla Walla as well as son, Chris Keyes of Arlington, Wash.
She is also survived by 10 grandchildren: Megan Meeks (and her husband Noah Meeks), Johnny Keyes, Merrylou Keyes, Kate Keyes, Jennifer Keyes, Jacob Keyes, Chip Keyes, Tucker Keyes, Sande Keyes and Summer Keyes. In addition, she is survived by three great-grandchildren: Sarah, Madison and Benjamin Meeks and several nieces and nephews on the Guthridge side of the family including Carol Guthridge Hamilton of Sherwood, Ore., Betty Guthridge Meehan of Lewiston, Idaho, Paula Arrighi Robbins, Laura Arrighi Landon and Todd Arrighi of Tacoma.
On the Keyes side of the family she is survived by her brother-in-law, Robert B. Keyes of Puyallup, Wash. and his adult children Karen Keyes Anderson, Christy Keyes Smith, Mike Keyes and Karla Keyes Belisle. She was preceded in death by her father-in-law, Jesse James Keyes and mother-in-law, Ella Henrietta Keyes, who owned and operated Keyes Confectionery and Restaurant in Walla Walla in the 1920s. Later Ella moved to Pasco and owned and operated My Lady's Shop, a maternity and millinery store. Jesse passed away in 1965 and Ella in 1990.
Viewing and visitation will be from 1-5 p.m. at Herring Funeral Home on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. A vigil service will be held Sunday evening at 5 p.m. at Herring Funeral Home. Mass of Christian burial will be Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. at St. Patrick Catholic Church with Father Pat Kerst officiating. Interment will follow at Mountain View Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Wheatland Village Employee Appreciation Fund, Walla Walla Community Hospice, DeSales Booster Club or charity of the donor's choice through Herring Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder St., Walla Walla.