"There are only two kinds of people in the world, The Irish and those who would like to be Irish". Our husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle and friend, died peacefully in his home on Sunday morning, May 7th 2023. He was surrounded by his family in his last hours.
Keith was born on January 9, 1934 to Edward Albert Riley and Mary Lucille Okelberry. He considered Goshen to be "A young boy's paradise" and loved it there. Pig pens, rabbit hutches, chicken coops, lambing pens, and hay stacks were great places to play. Keith grew up with his sister Shirlene who was three years older and always looked out for him. His mother died when he was 5 and his father when he was in high school.
Keith's teenage years were full of fun and memories. He loved Payson High School where he met the love of his life, Arlene. His goal as a sophomore was to get Arlene to go out with him. He was on the baseball, track, and football teams, played the trumpet in the band and was Eagle Eye, Indian scout, in the school play. In the summers he and his buddies worked as "gandy dancers" with the Union Pacific Railroad. They lived in bunk cars alongside the railroad tracks and came home on the weekends. Keith and Arlene enjoyed their 70th high school reunion this past summer in Payson.
The Air Force became a great step for Keith. He was assigned to air traffic control school in Biloxi, Mississippi. He LOVED his career as an air traffic controller and was so excited when his daughter in-law, Tonya and grandson Duston, followed in his footsteps. He was a controller for many years and then taught air traffic control. He was loved by his fellow employees and those that he taught. Keith was an airman third class in the Air Force making $87 a month when he convinced Arlene to marry him. They were married at the Las Vegas Hitching Post Wedding Chapel on July 29, 1953. It was later solemnized in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. He always said that marrying Arlene was the best decision he ever made. Joining the Air Force was number two! He was hoping to have a big celebration for their 70th anniversary this July.
Keith lived an extremely full and active life. He had many church callings as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Each calling seemed to be working with the young men. He had a great ability to coach, mentor, love and relate to young men, both in his ward and in his family. Youth loved his easy-going demeanor but also his stories. He was ward, stake, region and ultimately area athletic director. Sports were always a huge part of his life both playing and coaching. He loved softball and basketball. He also served as counselor in a Bishopric with his dear friends, Hyde Fredrickson and Trevor Austin.
Hunting, especially birds, was also a passion of Keith's. It was shared by some of his grandsons. He became a multi-year gold medal winner of sporting clays at the Utah Senior Games in St George. His bird dogs were like his kids and he relished hunting with them. He enjoyed many trips to Canada, South Dakota and Nebraska hunting pheasants and geese. His hunting and shooting buddies were some of the best friends anyone could have. They were loyal and took him with them until the end of his days.
Keith also loved southern Utah and hiking and camping there. He spent many nights camping and enjoying Indian ruins. He also loved Bear Lake and built two cabins. His posterity continues to enjoy that great tradition that he started. Keith also loved running and ran many marathons. He often said that running saved and prolonged his life as he developed what is known as a "runner's heart".
Keith's greatest joy in life was the 70 years spent with his dear wife Arlene. They were patient with each other and were close to the very end. He was a great husband. He also loved his children, Dave, Lori, Steve and Rob. He remained very close to each of his children and also his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Keith is survived by his wife Arlene and his sister Shirlene Daniels. He is also survived by his children Dave (Leona) Riley, Lori Sprung, Steve (Tonya) Riley, and Rob (Gary) Riley. Also, his grandchildren Jake (Kristi) Riley, Stephanie (Matt) Barrington, Andrea (Dave) ZoBell, Brian Riley, Richard and Andy Sprung. His great grandchildren Alison, Dylan, Sailer, Duston, Henry, Wyatt, Edward and Stevie. He was preceded in death by his brother, John Riley, sister Enid Smith and grandson, Duston Riley. Keith will be remembered fondly by many.
A special thanks to Rachel, his beloved hospice nurse, and the team at Quality Hospice. They were a great source of relief to Keith and his family in his final months on this earth.
Funeral services will be held at the LDS Chapel on 102 East 1400 South Bountiful, UT at 11:00 am on Thursday, May 11th. There will be a viewing at the church preceding the funeral service from 9:45 - 10:45 am on Thursday and a viewing on Wednesday evening May 10th from 6 - 8 pm at Russon Mortuary, 295 N. Main Bountiful, UT.
Services will be streamed live on Russon Brothers Mortuary Facebook page and this obituary page.