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Jack D. Key


1934 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
Jack D. Key Obituary

In Memory of Jack D. Key

Jack Dayton Key, age 81, passed away peacefully on December 22, 2015 in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Jack was born on February 24, 1934 in Enid, Oklahoma. Although he began in Oklahoma, he is a native New Mexican through and through. He was always very proud of being a New Mexican, so even though he left New Mexico to pursue his career, retiring to New Mexico was always a foregone conclusion. Jack's ancestors settled in the Weed, New Mexico area in the 1870s. Jack went to school in Carrizozo and Capitan and his family ranched for many years in Lincoln County. He called Lincoln County home and he loved to visit with old acquaintances and new friends.

At age 17, Jack enlisted in the US Navy and was shipped out to the Philippines where he served as part of the Navy's Construction Battalion, more commonly called the "SeaBees''. He was very proud of his service to the nation and of the lifelong friends he met there.

Jack met the love of his life and future wife, Virgie while attending Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma. They both received their Bachelor's Degrees there. Jack later got a Masters of Art at the University of New Mexico in 1960 and a Master's of Science at the University of Illinois in 1962. He was the Medical Librarian at the Lovelace Foundation for Medical Education and Research in Albuquerque from 1965-1970.

Jack then moved to Rochester Minnesota where he was offered the opportunity of lifetime in becoming the Director of the Mayo Medical Center Library (a job which could arguably be considered the pinnacle of his professional field). Jack held this job f or some 24 years. Jack's job at Mayo allowed him to travel the world, meet scores of interesting people, write hundreds of articles and publish many books on subjects that included Medical History, Civil War medicine, and Library Science. Jack also published many articles on famed physicians, William Osler and William Hammond. His love of medical history led him to become an expert on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his literary character, Sherlock Holmes. That interest and the many publications he authored on Conan Doyle led him to be inducted as a "Baker Street Irregular", an international organization dedicated to Sherlock Holmes and his connection to Medicine.

The awards, decorations and accomplishments of Jack Key are truly amazing but he was most proud of being inducted into the Phillips University Hall of Fame, being a decorated Knight of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon, being on Emeritus staff of the Mayo Clinic, and being a Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Communications at the Mayo Medical School. He was a Rotarian for several decades and was named a Paul Harris Fellow. He truly lived a life consistent with the Rotarian 'four way test'.

Jack was a long time member and Elder of the First Christian Church - Disciples of Christ in Rochester, MN. When he and Virgie retired and returned to New Mexico they became active at Los Altos Christian Church in Albuquerque.

Jack loved telling stories and most of them were true. He loved his friends from around the world but especially cherished his church family, his writing buddies, dachshunds, and the Baker Street Irregulars. He and Virgie loved the East Mountains around Albuquerque and developed great friendships with their neighbors, the Senior Club, and the Book Club.

His friends never tired of his jokes and they often pretended that they had never heard them before. One joke that his friends heard was Jack's feigned aversion of friends saying hello at the airport for fear of what would happen when "Hi-Jack" was heard there. His constant companion, Virgie, would also act as both his 'straight man' and his supplier of 'Tabasco ' hot sauce because they carried it wherever they traveled to. Jack is also known for never ordering a hamburger or steak without specific instruct ions to 'burn it' or to cook it 'very well done!!!

Virgie, his wife of 59 years , one daughter, two sons, seven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren survive him: Toni Janish (Jesse) of Columbia, MO, Scot Key (Liz) of Alamogordo, NM, Todd Key (Rosa) of Buford, GA. Grandchildren include Marshall Janish, Dalton Janish, Jeremy Lopez, Tiff any Lopez, Alora Key (a.k.a. Danny girl), Katelyn Key, and Duncan Key. Great Grandchildren include Jazmin Lopez and precious Leah Lopez. Jack's two sisters also survive him, Beverly Smouse and Roberta Haldane, both of Tijeras, New Mexico to whom he owes so much.

Jack's only thoughts and concerns during his illness were of the care of his bride, Virgie. That should be of little concern because there are so many people that loved Jack and continue to love and cherish Mom, Grandma and great grandma, Virgie.

We love you Dad.
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from Jan. 3 to Feb. 2, 2016
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