Margaret Keith, 96, of La Grande passed away December 21 at home in La Grande surrounded by her family. A Graveside Service will be held at Grandview Cemetery on Friday, December 28, 2018 at 1:00pm. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, December 28 at Trinity Baptist Church.
She was born June 2, 1922 in Elgin, Iowa, a northeastern Iowa farm community. That’s where her future love for medicine was molded as the daughter of a veterinarian. From as far back as she could remember, she accompanied him “in the country” to go on calls. She enthusiastically took it all in, at first to observe and later to help assist in the care of animals - everything from sheep, goats, pigs and even draft horses. She was a quick study, soaking up surgical techniques and treatments, always reading, studying., interested. After high school, she wanted to continue in medicine, but during this time, the accepted path was pretty much limited to nursing, so in 1940 she entered nurses training at St. Luke’s College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, graduating in June 1943.
The war was on, and nurses were needed, so she volunteered for duty and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and was assigned to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, where she primarily trained medics for overseas combat. Her two years in the service left an indelible mark on her life and has given all of us who loved her amazing stories of then and now, pieces of history in medicine and what it was like to be a nurse in war time. The best part of her military story is the happily ever after ending- she met the love of her life while in the service - Byron Keith. He was a patient of hers, an enlisted man too (!). He was always quick to tell you that it was love at first sight, adding, “I knew at first glance I was going to marry “blue eyes.” And they did - on January 6, 1945. He passed in 2011, but what a wonderful ride they had for 66 years.
She continued her nursing career, and always maintained nursing licenses in multiple states, in order to care for her parents in Iowa or return to California when they moved out of state. During her career, she worked as a school nurse, was the director of admitting at Mercy San Juan Hospital in Sacramento, then was the administrator of a convalescent hospital in the same area. Margaret was an amazing woman who touched many lives and will be greatly missed.
She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Vicki and David Lyon of La Grande; Sister Barbara McCully of Burnsville, Minnesota; Brother Keith Crider of Westford, Massachusetts; multiple nieces and nephews; grandchildren, Michael Nicely of La Grande, Kevin Lyon of Medical Springs, and David Lyon II of La Grande; great grandchildren Elizabeth, William Lyon and Wren Lyon.
Memorials may be made to City of Hope National Medical Center, 1500 Duarte Road, Duarte, CA 91010 or the charity of your choice.