'There was an absolute sweetness to her soul': Mary Keith memorial service Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Mary Keith ... retired town employee, longtime church and theater volunteer.  - Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church
Mary Keith ... retired town employee, longtime church and theater volunteer.
— image credit: Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church

Mary Keith
May 5, 1945 - Sept. 26, 2009

Many islanders remember Mary Keith singing at Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church and with San Juan Singers.

Her love of things that nurture the soul — art, faith, music and theater — uplifted her, even as a pulmonary illness sapped her strength and required her to have an oxygen tank with her.

"There was an absolute sweetness to her soul," San Juan Community Theatre Executive Director Merritt Olsen said. "When you had a conversation with her, you felt she was so genuine, she wasn't just doing a nicety or saying a nice thing at the appropriate moment."

And so, on Tuesday, in the place where Mrs. Keith's voice once blended with others to, as Psalm 100 states, "make a joyful noise" to her Lord, islanders will sing for her.

Mrs. Keith died Saturday at 2 p.m. She was 64. Memorial service is Tuesday, 6 p.m. at Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church. People who would like to sing in the service should show up at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday for a brief rehearsal.

Mrs. Keith was accounts receivable and payables clerk for the Town of Friday Harbor from March 1998 to April 2007; her co-workers there were stunned beyond comment today by news of her passing. A statement from the Town Administrator's office is forthcoming.

Olsen fondly remembered Mrs. Keith's behind-the-scenes work for the community theater.

"She ran the lightboard for a number of our shows and assisted backstage. She was just a really positive spirit. She assisted and stage-managed some shows. She was involved in a lot of plays from a technical standpoint. Even after her illness sapped her strength, she continued to support the theater as an audience member.

"She was truly a community minded person, committed to the spirit of community."

Even as her illness slowed her, she continued to help publish the church newsletter and did the artwork for the church bulletin board.

"What a friend," church choir director Patty Bair said. "She sang with the choir for about 10 years until her lungs gave out and she couldn't do it anymore. But she was always thinking about other people, even when she was really sick. She remembered you had this going on, wanted to know how you were doing. She never whined. She knew she wasn't going to get better, but she kept plugging away."

Mrs. Keith's survivors include her son, David.

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