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Belva Chase Keyworth

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Belva Chase Keyworth, a longtime resident of Williamstown and former owner of radio stations WBTN-AM and WHGC-FM in Bennington, Vt., died Jan. 19, 2004 after a long illness.

Born Belva Pearl Chase on Aug. 22, 1914 in Visalia, Calif., she was the daughter of Harvey G. and Pearle (Moran) Chase.

Mrs. Keyworth graduated from Woodlake High School in Visalia; she was a graduate of Central California Commercial College in Stockton where she was elected “ideal secretary of California,” by the Alpha Iota sorority.

During World War II, Mrs. Keyworth worked as a secretary in the Department of the Navy in Washington D.C. While there, she married James Gordon Keyworth. Together, they worked in a number of radio stations in New England, including WNAN-WMNB in Pittsfield.

The Keyworths were among the original stockholders in Catamount Broadcasters Inc., which was organized April 19, 1951. The corporation began AM-radio broadcasting from Bennington as WBTN in 1953.

The Keyworths were divorced in 1965. Mrs. Keyworth acquired the remaining shares of Catamount Broadcasters Inc. from Francis E. Morrissey Sr., Gerald E. Morrissey, George D. “Happy” Pierce, William H. Eddington and Robert T. Holden. In 1971, Catamount Broadcasters acquired an FM-radio broadcast license from the Federal Communications Commission and began broadcasting WHGC-FM from its tower in Shaftsbury, Vt. Mrs. Keyworth operated both stations until retirement in 1997.

Radio stations WBTN-AM and WHGC-FM were sold to Vermont Public Radio in 2000.

Mrs. Keyworth was an avid and accomplished golfer. She played frequently at Mt. Anthony Country Club in Bennington and was a member of Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown. She owned a condominium apartment in Raleigh, N.C., where she frequently visited to play golf.

Mrs. Keyworth was a member and active contributor to the Vermont Association of Broadcasters, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and a member of St. John’s Church in Williamstown.

In addition to her brother, Lyle H. Chase of Fresno, Calif., Mrs. Keyworth is survived by nephews and cousins.

A memorial service will be held Jan. 30, 2004 at 10 a.m. in the Sherman Burbank Chapel at Eastlawn Cemetery in Williamstown. In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to make contributions to Vermont Public Radio or St. John’s Church in Williamstown through the offices of Mahar & Son Funeral Home, 628 Main St., Bennington, VT 05201.
Published in Bennington Banner on Jan. 26, 2004
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