Joseph Key

  • "Joe Key the BEST man and friend Lydia and I will ever..."
    - Jim & Lydia Lee
  • "The State of Nevada lost a great man. What a great friend...."
    - Cyndi Stocks
  • "I got the distinct pleasure of meeting Joe in 2009. He was..."
  • "I had business dealings with Joe years ago. He was a truly..."
    - Deborah Vonarx
  • "Nevada lost a great man. . . . and I lost a great partner..."
    - Ron Bath

Joseph Boston Key

November 25, 1914

May 30, 2014

Joe Key was born on November 25, 1914 in Argentine, Kansas. Orphaned at an early age, he was raised by his aunts, Gertrude and Nelly. In 1936 he married his high school sweetheart and love of his life, Kathryn Key. They were married for nearly 75 years, until Kay's passing in 2011. After receiving his bachelor's degree at Kansas State University, Joe went on to be awarded a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Kansas State University in 1936. He began his veterinary practice caring for dairy cows in Wisconsin, until he and Kay moved to Reno in 1940. Joe started his thirty-five year practice of veterinary medicine at Key Animal Hospital.

Joe was a veteran of World War II, having served as a captain in the United States Army Veterinary Corp at various assignments, including the South Pacific. After the war, he returned to Reno to continue his veterinary practice.

Joe and Kay had two sons, Jon and Chris. In 1971 Joe retired from his animal hospital and enrolled in law school. He was awarded his law degree in 1975 from the McGeorge School of Law at the age of 61. He promptly began his service as a Washoe County Deputy District Attorney under then District Attorney, Larry R. Hicks. In 1979 Joe entered private practice for several years, but soon his longtime involvement in ranching became his full-time passion. He and his son, Jon, have operated the Rabbit Creek Ranch in Elko County for the last 35 years. Following a short illness, Joe died peacefully on May 30, 2014 at the age of 99 years.

Joe achieved many accomplishments during his lifetime, but the one he treasured most was his Elko County ranch. Joe Key's long life was the embodiment of the concept of a self-made man. To know him was to understand the meaning of "The Greatest Generation."

Joe was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Kay, and his granddaughter, Katy. Joe is survived by his two sons, Jon (Sue) of Reno, and Chris (Donna) of Albuquerque, New Mexico; his grandchildren, Kevin, Melinda and Emily; and great-grandchildren, Westen and Luke.

In accordance with his wishes, no public service will be held. There will be a private family burial at a later date.

The family wishes to thank Joe's longtime physician, Dr. Randi Grinsell, for her attentive care. Additionally, the family wishes to express their gratitude and thanks to his caregivers at Life Care of Reno, especially Dr. David Julian, for his compassionate care.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a contribution to the Nevada Military Support Alliance, a 501-C-3 entity, in honor of Joseph B. Key. Contributions may be made by going online at; or by sending your donation directly to the Nevada Military Support Alliance, 985 Damonte Ranch Parkway, Suite 310, Reno, NV 89521.

Arrangements are entrusted to the Walton Funeral Home, Reno. The family invites you to share a condolence message in the Book of Memories at the website,


Funeral Home
Walton's Sierra Chapel, Reno
875 West 2nd Street
Reno, NV 89505
Funeral Home Details
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Published in Reno Gazette-Journal from June 4 to June 8, 2014
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