Roberta Keys TORN
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ROBERTA KEYS TORN, a remarkable woman with an incredible life story, died on the 19th of August 2011, at the age of 96, and went to be with the Lord she loved. She and her quadruplet sisters, Mona Keys Fowler, Mary Keys Anderson, and Leota Keys Hall, were born on the 4th of June 1915, in Hollis Oklahoma, the first quadruplets of the same sex to be recorded in medical history. The Keys Quadruplets were born to Flake and Alma Keys, and the occasion of their birth was so unique that President Theodore Roosevelt telegraphed his congratulations and his astonishment.
From their birth to their early adult life, the Keys Quadruplets were quite a novelty, performing locally and nationally by singing and playing the saxophone. They had many opportunities for stage, vaudeville, and cinema, but their parents chose for them a life of normalcy with Christian values being their primary focus.
In 1933, the Keys Quadruplets were offered full scholarships to Baylor University by former Texas Governor Pat Neff. They travelled all over the country, promoting Baylor and then promoting the Texas Bicentennial. While at Baylor, Roberta excelled academically and played in the Baylor Band along with her sisters.
In 1941, Roberta accepted a teaching job in Canton, Texas, where she met and married Roland Sarrazin (Rip) Torn. They were married 58 years until his death in 1999. They moved to Houston in 1947 where Rip was a Special Agent in the F.B. I., and later served as a private investigator, a real estate appraiser, and an investor.
Their marriage was one of a kind, fueled by humor and laughter and filled with a zest for living and a passion for serving others, especially those in difficult circumstances. Much of their life and their friendships centered around South Main Baptist Church, where they were both Honored Deacons and served in almost all aspects of church life there.
While at South Main, Roberta saw a need to help the patients at M.D. Anderson Hospital who had no family or friends in Houston. Roberta founded Adopt A Friend, which helped patients with no family or friends who had extended stays at M.D. Anderson. This eventually led to the formation of the interfaith apartment ministry, The Sojourn House. Roberta received numerous awards from M.D. Anderson, along with the Houston Mayor's Award for Volunteer Service, and the Baylor University Abner McCall Humanitarian Award. She is remembered at M.D. Anderson for her humor, her infectious smile, and her ability to get things done. When asked for what she wanted to be remembered, she stated," I want to be remembered as someone who gave back.." In addition to her work at M.D. Anderson, Roberta served as a schoolteacher, a Sunday School teacher and an active participant in PEO, Chapter AX.
Roberta's family was her joy. Roberta and Rip loved their children and were involved in all aspects of their lives and their grandchildren's lives. Surviving her are her three children, Susan Torn Young and her husband, Dr. Paul R. Young, Roland Sam Torn, and his wife, Susan Boggs Torn, and Marjorie Torn Patrick and her husband Richard L. Patrick. She is also survived by her beloved grandchildren, Susanna Young Kartye and her husband Clay Kartye, Philip Young, Scott Torn and his wife Secily, Christopher Torn and his wife, Ceci, Angela Torn, Kyle Patrick and his wife, Amber, the Reverend Clay Patrick, and his wife, Holly, Megan Patrick Herne and her husband, Kevin Herne, and 18 great grandchildren, each of whom she called her "pride and joy" and numerous nieces and nephews who remained very close to her throughout her life.
Roberta's parents, her four older siblings, Rex Keys, Jacqueline Keys Bennett, Marjorie Keys, and Charles Keys, her quadruplets sisters, her husband, Roland (Rip) Torn and an infant son, preceded her in death. As she stated, "I was the first of the quads to be born, and I will be the last one to die."
The family wishes to express thanks to Dr. Luis Campos and to Roberta's caregivers, Matilde Martinez, Anne Dawson, and Pat Kimble.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from six until eight o'clock in the evening on Monday, the 22nd of August, at Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
All are invited to gather with the family for the interment service, to be conducted at ten o'clock in the morning on Tuesday, the 23rd of August, at Memorial Oaks Cemetery, 13001 Katy Freeway in Houston.
A memorial service and celebration of Roberta's life is to be conducted at noon, also on Tuesday, in the sanctuary of South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main Street in Houston, where a reception will follow.
In lieu of customary remembrances, contributions in memory of Roberta Torn may be directed to the South Main Baptist Church Foundation, 4100 Main St., Houston, TX, 77002; or to the Baylor University Keys Quadruplet Scholarship Fund, 1 Bear Place, Waco, TX, 76798-7026.




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Published in Houston Chronicle from Aug. 21 to Aug. 22, 2011.
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Memories & Condolences
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24 entries
August 26, 2011
An angel has returned to heaven! I will always remember the friendly lady with the gum in her handbag when she volunteered at M.D. Anderson. My son was a patient there quite a few years back and she always had a smile when visiting the pediatric patients in the playroom. My husband and I will always remember her kind spirit and love for the children.
J Quimby
August 23, 2011
I worked with Roberta at M.D.Anderson
for twenty years and what a wonderful adventure it was. We laughed together and cried together, many times. She was a beautiful lady and a real "hoot". I
will never forget her.

"Moonbeam", Benham, Kentucky
August 23, 2011
The Willson family always enjoyed the presence of the Torns at South Main and the summers in Ozark Boys Camp in Mt. Ida, Arkansas. Great memories thanks to Rip and Roberta.
Don Willson
August 23, 2011
mrs. torn was a teacher of mine at memorial-she led us to believe that was the most important thing she ever did-i am very proud to have known her and to learn of her many areas of interest, influence, and accomplishment.
tracy robinson
August 23, 2011
What a special lady! Your mother and father were dear friends to my mother. Roberta and my mother became friends in Spring Branch when they taught together. I remember her wit, warmth, and loyalty as a friend. I was so pleased to get to visit with her a couple of years ago. She was sharp as ever. I so enjoyed reading and learning more about her. What an amazing woman and life she led. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Liz Donoho Norman (Houston)
August 22, 2011
How can one summarize the attributes of this larger than life icon? Christian, one-of-a-kind, self-assured, entertainer, take charge, celebrator of life, warm, involved, gracious. Keys quad, Mert and Gert, Friends In Need, South Main, Thursday night Bridge Club, Baylor graduate, Camp Ozark, Uncovered Sin, Mary Poppins, Paul Revere's horse, Rip's supporter and challenger, Super Mother, Super Friend, unashamedly unique. Roberta was an incredible woman, ahead of her time in knowing and living a full and productive life as a woman. Years ago, while all four were still with us, the Torns and my parents, the Crumps, discovered they had burial plots very close to each other. They vowed they would spend eternity playing bridge together. Rip and my dad have been playing two handed bridge for many years. Now they have a threesome. Ro will show them how it's done!
Mecky Crump Jones
August 22, 2011
Susan, Wow, what a wonderful life your Mom had with so many influencial rolls. I called Vonnie Brown to tell her of your Mom's passing and she told me about the time you and your Mom were shopping for a prom dress at Ev. B. on Post Oak and ended up buying the "same" dress---which you didn't find out until the dance! Vonnie said that you both got a good laugh over the situation. I might add, I'm sure that both of you, looked beautiful!
Ellen Carlson
August 22, 2011
Aside from the wives of ministers, Roberta Torn was perhaps the most-influential female member of South Main Baptist Church during the second half of the Twentieth Century. She eclipsed most of the men as well.

She was incomparably-approachable and uncommonly-kind and gracious with a dry sense of humor to go along with everything else. The world is a poorer place today. Rest in peace, Ro.
Jeffrey Ragsdale
August 22, 2011
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the Torn family. My mother-in-law, Nell Shirley, often spoke of Roberta and their friendship years ago at South Main Baptist. I had heard about this family for years and then I had the pleasure of getting to know the Torns and Roberta when my daughter, Katie Kaufman, played basketball at EHS with Angela. What a treat that was. Roberta touched so many lives during all her years serving the community and her family. We send our condolences to all of you.
Cathy and Charles Shirley, Georgetown, Texas
August 22, 2011
What a wonderful lifetime of great memories Roberta has left with me, especially the many times our families were together at Family Week at Ozark Boys Camp (now Camp Ozark). Everyone there will cherish the fun that Roberta poured into the Costume Golf Tournaments, and what outlandish costumes she seemed to always come up with. Her "take charge" approach to the skits presented by her family was always an added hoot. On a much more sedate level, my most memorable evening was when my mother and I were invited to play bridge at the home of Rip and Roberta. I never felt so important to anyone outside my own family as Rip and Roberta made me feel that night. I have no memory of the bridge score, but they left me feeling a winner. And I certainly cannot think of Rip and Roberta without so fondly remembering Susan, Sam and Margy, all fine friends of mine from those days growing up at South Main.
Bill Crump
August 22, 2011
As I told Sally on Friday night when she called to tell me the news about Roberta, "An era has passed, but what a legacy survives". I know the reunion in heaven was a joyous one. Her spirit dwells in all of you, so continue knowing she's never far away. Our thoughts and prayers are with you now and in the days to come. Joe and Roxa Joplin (McKinney, Texas)
August 22, 2011
Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with your family. We have been gone from South Main for many years, but there are some people whom you just don't forget. Roberta Torn was definitely one of those whom we remember with great respect, appreciation, and fondness. We will definitely be there in spirit as you celebrate her life.......
Much love,
Paul and Marylyn Douthit
August 22, 2011
I did not know Mrs. Torn but she sounded like an wonderful, kind and giving person. RIP
Dana Fry
August 21, 2011
Dear Susan,
I appreciated your phone message. Your mother, Ro,was a special person to me. I highly respected her wisdom and wit, and her love to me. She was my spiritual teacher and friend. She will always be in my heart. Ro was a faithful servant of God. Surely goodness and mercy followed Ro all the days of her life; and I believe she dwells in the house of the Lord forever. Peace and love be with you and other Ro's family members.
Christiana Liem
August 21, 2011
Dear Susan
My heart aches for you as
you say good-bye to your precious mother. You and your family will be close to my heart and in my prayers in the coming days. What a wonderful mother.. You were so blessed to have her.
Johnnie Hughes Hatfield
August 21, 2011
A grand lady with a beautiful family. We have enjoyed the community of sharing our love of God and faith at South Main Baptist. Ro, we will miss your smiles and humor. May your family find peace in your reunion with our saviour.
Roberta & Tracy Prater
August 21, 2011
I am a cousin-my grandma was Trannie Mae Knight-one of the 12. I always enjoyed the times at your Mom's. She was a lovely lady & lots of fun too. She will certainly be missed. My love & condolences to you.
Margaret Chaput. (Weaks)
August 21, 2011
Roberta's positive impact was felt by so many of us. Remembering her in the hallways at M.D.Anderson and at South Main Baptist, she was never without that wonderful smile and beautiful countenance. What a difference she made. I celebrate her life with you.
Barbara Satterwhite
August 21, 2011
Dear Susan, Sam and Marjorie,
We are deeply saddened to hear that your dear mother, Ro passed away. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers and our perfect memories of Ro will live on.
Please accept our condolences.
Immaculee, Maxime and Jean
Immaculee, Jean
August 21, 2011
Your dear parents shared their faith with all they came across. The Walker Family was blessed to have known them.

Maxine Walker Ballard
Fayetteville TX
Maxine Ballard
August 21, 2011
Your mother and father were such great Christians who have influenced me so much and I am a much better person for having them in my early formulative years. Their footsteps have left a great impression here on this earth for which we are all blessed.
Bill Wylie
August 21, 2011
I have some wonderful memories of Ro. She was a warm and comforting presence at M.D.Anderson Cancer Center for patients and staff. She will be missed. I am sure Thommye had the gates of Heaven open and waiting for Ro.

My deepest sympathy to Ro's family.
Lorena Collier
August 21, 2011
Every time I saw Mrs. Torn, she would smile her inimitable smile and say something nice to me. She was a joy to be around, and an irreplaceable friend to my family and me. I'll miss her.
Joel Berry
August 21, 2011
Dear Marjorie,
I am sorry to hear about the loss of your dear Mother. I extend my condolences to you and your family.
Love,
Alexis (Dowling) Britton
Alexis Britton
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