Boyce "Jack"'s Story

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Boyce (Jack) Keys, age 78, passed away December 11th in Scottsdale, AZ. Jack was born January 20, 1939 at the Indian hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He is survived by his wife, Janet Keys and their children, Louis Keys (granddaughter, Jody), Kelly Keys (grand dog, Ching) and Jack Keys (daughter-in-law, Robin; grandson, Travis, grand dog, Chuppy) along with his sisters, Toxie Hamilton, Julia (Pete) Hullinger and Charlene Keys as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law and friends. Jack was a wonderful son, brother, father, husband, uncle, friend, military policeman, professional baseball player and teammate, an esteemed businessman and entrepreneur... selfless and sweet with sharp wit and intelligence. He enjoyed spending time with family, sports, playing golf, supporting the Sooners, was an avid hiker and music enthusiast. Really, it is impossible to characterize him wholly so it is hoped that you will take a moment to remember your special relationship and memories with Jack. If you didnt know him, well, keep reading. Fortunately, we are very lucky to have a hand written account of Jacks life authored by him in 2015. He wrote this in contribution to his grandsons Social Studies family tree project, The Story of Boyce Keys. He wrote it in Travis point of view and he refers to himself as Grandfather. It is proudly shared below: My Grandfather, Boyce Lee (Jack) Keys was born January 20, 1939 at the Indian Hospital in Tahlequah, Okla. His parents were Alfred Cunningham Keys and Malinda Gertrude Keys. Alfred was half Cherokee Indian, half Scottish; Malinda was a full blood Cherokee. Since there was no reservation the family moved around the Tahlequah area, finally settling in the small country community of Eldon, 14 miles east of Tahlequah. Alfred was a sharecropper for many years, meaning he would make an agreement with a landowner, you supply the land and seed, and I will do the farming. The crops were then split to be sold or for personal use. Grandfather and brother, Rusty spent a lot of hours during school vacations working the fields. Not so much during school. The family raised most of their food. Always had a good sized garden raising a variety of vegetables. Always had two or three cows for milk, butter and homemade ice cream, chickens for eggs. Hunting and fishing were other sources of food. During this time, family never had a car. Travel was horseback and horse drawn wagon. No electricity, no running water, no TV. Battery operated radio was a source of entertainment. Grandfather attended Lane Grade School, two rooms one through eighth grade. Lane always had one of the best softball teams in the county. Grandfather did not know how many tournaments they won but said they were always one of the top teams in the county. Entering high school Grandfather and one other freshman were the only freshman to start on the high school baseball team. He was also introduced to full contact football at this time. By his senior year he had made All State in baseball as a pitcher, All Conference and Honorable Mention All-State in football. Unfortunately, his sophomore year, Alfred (his father) suddenly passed away. This created a very hard financial hardship for the family. So after graduation Grandfather chose to turn to professional baseball to help his mother with finances. Professional baseball after four years in the minor leagues came with little success. At this point, he made the decision to give it up, do his military obligation and find a real job when term was up. While playing in Erie, Pa. in 1960 he met his wife Janet of 53 years (at the time of this writing). They were married in 1962 and have three wonderful children, Louis, Kelly and my Dad, Jack. After Honorable Discharge from the Army, he became a salesman in the electronics industry for 35 years. Spent 22 of those years in Phila., Pa. then was transferred to Arizona. He retired in 2001 and lived happily with Janet in Scottsdale, Az. Subsequent to this writing, Jack had the honor of being inducted into is high schools Athletic Hall of Fame. Family and friends traveled to be in Tahlequah for this very proud and special night of celebration. When it was his turn to speak, he told endless accounts and play by play action of his time as a high school athlete. To conclude, he said, The best thing that happened during my professional (baseball) career was meeting my wife, Janet. A memorial service will be held at Messinger Mortuaries, Indian School Road, Scottsdale, AZ on January, 13, 2017 at 11:30 AM MST.
Published on December 19, 2017
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