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Died peacefully in his sleep at his Hillsborough home November 1. He was just shy of his 90th birthday. As an older man, he looked back upon his life with tremendous gratitude, having led what he described as a "very rewarding business and personal life." All whom he met along the way will remember him as a true gentleman and a man of great integrity. He was a good person, kind, generous and fair to all, and he will be greatly missed.
Keith was born January 22, 1923 in East Orange, New Jersey to Lee and Persis Provo. He graduated from Yale University in 1944 with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. While at Yale, he joined the U.S. Navel Reserve in which he served for three years during World War II and attained the rank of lieutenant.
Keith was on leave in New York City in 1944 when he met the love of his life, "my Vassar girl," as he called her, Carolyn Bell. They married in 1945 and embarked on a happy life together that included six children: Geoffrey, Carter, Kent, Blake, Darcy and Christopher.
Keith's long and successful career in the paper industry, first at Container Corporation of America and then at Crown Zellerbach, took the family from Philadelphia to St. Louis to the San Francisco Bay Area (in 1960) and to the Netherlands (in 1976) where he was president of Van Gelder Papier.
While in Holland, Carol became sick with leukemia, and they returned to the Bay Area. She died a year later in 1980. Heartbroken after losing his wife of 35 years, Keith would later write that he "lost interest in business," and so retired at age 58. From 1982 to 2009 he was married to Adrienne Moffat Provo.
Keith lived the last years of his life enjoying the daily companionship, care and loving attention of his nearby children Carter, Kent, Darcy and Christopher, grandson Pierce Thompson (Darcy's son) and daughter-in-law Renee St. Louis (Kent's partner). Keith's four other grandchildren are Justin, Ian and Neil Provo (Blake's children, Utah) and Alexandra Provo (Geoffrey's daughter, Florence, Italy).
At his request, the family held a private service. The family asks that gifts in memory of Keith Provo be made to support the Cardiac Stem Cell Translational Development Program at UCSF. Checks may be made out to the UCSF Foundation and sent to Box 45339, San Francisco, CA 94145.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Nov. 12, 2012