Obituary of William Lee Keyes
William Lee Keyes (named Willie Lee Keys on his birth certificate) was born October 8, 1942, in Hattiesburg Mississippi to Eula Keys and William Wesby (according to Mary Helen Kelly, William’s Maternal Aunt). William (affectionately called Bill by some family members) Started his business enterprise early around seven or eight years old when he ‘helped’ his maternal grandmother Virginia Keys sell products in her ‘Speak Easy' in Mississippi. During Bill’s early years, he frequently accompanied Vernetha (Bill’s Maternal Aunt) to her Mary Kay appointments. As a result, Bill conducted business for nearly 70 years in various states—Mississippi, California, Illinois, Missouri, Idaho, and Washington state.
In Tacoma, Washington, Bill met Martin Brazier, Sr. at McCarver Junior High School. Bill and Martin became best friends while they both played various sports —football, basketball, and track-- and continued their education in high school. Both Bill and Martin graduated from Stadium High School in May 1961. After graduating, they joined the Air Force in the United States military for four years. (Bill told me that he also served four years in the Air Force Reserves.)
Since his military years, Bill has owned and operated several businesses that have spanned decades. Bill sold Jet Magazines in barber shops in Tacoma, Washington, developed jobs for young adults in Manpower Training, Inc. in Los Angeles, California; marketed and sold vocational education programs to “everyday people” who needed additional training or income to improve their financial status in California and the state of Washington; and ultimately, created Keyes Industries, Ltd, a property preservation company, in Kent, Washington. This business continues with his wife Ellafair at the helm and Elgin, stepson, as the Field Manager/handyman, providing service to households in the community.
Receiving encouragement from his best friend Martin bill gave his life to Christ and got baptized at Overcomer Covenant church in June 2012 under the leadership of Pastors Gordon and Derozette Banks in Auburn, Washington. READ SILENTLY William Lee (Bill) Keyes went to his heavenly home on February 16, 2023. Bill is survived by his wife Ellafair Keyes and sons Algernon Keyes and Elgin McCoy, Elgin's wife Coleen and their daughters Madison and Mia. These family members live in Auburn, WA. Bill’s oldest living relative and Maternal Aunt Mary Helen Kelly survives him. Mrs. Kelly lives with her four children, grandchildren, and other family members in Merrillville, Indiana. Bill is also survived by his two daughters Kim Renee Keyes (oldest) and Saundra Lee "Nicky"
Keyes (youngest) with their children and family members in California. Kym’s children are Brittany, Brittany’s two children, and Matthew. Saundra’s four children include daughters Kenedi Tyler and Paris Thomas (her son Khalil Goodwin); and her sons Joseph and Jacob Thomas.
Bill has three brothers—Ulysses, Tyrone, and Cole Renal Keys and one sister Vernetha "Verna" Radcliffe to cherish his memory. Bill’s siblings’ children include the following: Ulysses "Butch" has nine children (including four stepchildren), twenty-two Grandchildren, and five Great grandchildren. Tyrone has five children and nine Grandchildren. Coe Renal has three sons including Michael White (and his three daughters), Lamont White (has a son), and Marcus White (has a daughter). All Bill’s brothers and their families live in or near Tacoma Washington. Verna and her family members live in Los Angeles, California. Her son is Bobby Ray Hines, Jr., his wife is Shontae, and his daughter is Acacia. Verna’s daughter is Vernette Ramirez. Vernette’s son is Jevante, and her daughters are Jennie and Jelyssa.
Other relatives that survive Bill include his first cousin Pat Wilson of Chamblee, Georgia; James "Uncle Sonny” Keys’ widow Ruth Ann Keys, and his sons Maury, Darryl, and Marty Keys and their families live in Mississippi, along with a host of cousins, nephews, and nieces throughout the United States. In addition, the staff of the Renal Dialysis Unit at the Seattle VA Hospital (Puget Sound Healthcare System); the Overcomer Covenant Church family, business associates, and friends are left to cherish their moments with Bill.